The 10 best theater productions happening this fall in Tampa Bay

Fall Guide 2019.

Tampa Bay theaters

American Stage 163 3rd St. N., St. Petersburg. Shows run Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; and Wed.-Thurs., 7 p.m. $20-$70, with free shows for youngest patrons and free tickets and discounts for active and retired military (and their families.)

freeFall Theatre 6099 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $39.50-$52.50*. Shows run Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 2 p.m.; and Wed.-Thurs., 7 p.m.

Jobsite Theater at the Shimberg, Straz Center for the Performing Arts. 1010 N. WC MacInnes Place, Tampa. Shows run Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m. $29.50 & up, demand-dependent pricing. 813-229-STAR.

Stageworks Theatre 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd., Ste. 151, Tampa. Shows run Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m. and Sat.-Sun., 3 p.m. $35-$50**.

Tampa Rep The Studio Theatre at HCC Ybor, 1411 E. 11th Ave., Tampa. Shows run Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m. and Sun., 3 p.m. 25*

*Discounts for for youngest, oldest and bravest. 
**and also educators

click to enlarge Jobsite’s ‘Meteor Shower’ kicks off a hearty season of independent Tampa Bay theater. - Pritchard Photography
Pritchard Photography
Jobsite’s ‘Meteor Shower’ kicks off a hearty season of independent Tampa Bay theater.

Tampa Bay theater is all about escapism — and our local theater companies never fail to deliver. Asking me to pick which of the fall shows I’m most anticipating is like asking me to choose a favorite cheese: Why do I have to pick when I can have them all?

A wild and crazy dinner party

Who doesn’t love Steve Martin? My husband, that’s who. But that’s OK; we’re not going to tell him that Steve Martin wrote Meteor Shower, because he’s so involved with not liking Steve Martin that he doesn’t realize he actually really likes his plays. This one — set at a dinner party during a meteor shower — has a small cast and, by the looks of the trailer on Jobsite’s website, a little flirty-couple-swapping-humor. Jobsite Theater, through Sept. 6-29.

Who gets the friends in a divorce?

At Tampa Rep, there’s another sort of dinner party happening — and divorce is in the air when you have Dinner With Friends. In suburbia, nothing shatters a world like your best couple friends getting a divorce, because shit gets awkward. BOGO tickets the first weekend only — use promo code FRIENDS. Tampa Rep, Sept. 12-29.

We can’t Wait Until Dark

A doll, a blind woman and a murder. Stageworks promises this show will scare the crap out of you (we’re paraphrasing). Don’t bring the kids. Stageworks Theatre, Sept. 27-Oct. 13.

Fear Factor

Turn of the Screw was the first play I ever saw at Stageworks, and I was hooked. Let’s take a moment and thank the theater gods (they’re like Zeus, only mildly less randy) we have a theater like freeFall on the west side of Tampa Bay to bring back to us this Henry James classic. If you’re unfamiliar with Screw, I’ll entice you with this: Critics have, for years, argued over what sort of evil it is, exactly, that sits with you for two hours in the dark. The unknown awaits. freeFall, Sept. 28-Oct. 27.

A comedy about… Vietnam?

The New York Times promises us that Vietgone is a “raucous comedy” and, despite what the current president says, we’re gonna believe ‘em. Catch the regional premiere in St. Petersburg. American Stage, Oct. 2-Nov. 3.

Cue Dennis Leary’s “I’m an asshole”

If you’re woke, you think the premise behind American Thanksgiving sucks — because, well, it’s a goddamn celebration of genocide and WTF, America, nobody even likes turkey all that much? OK, so, if you’re still reading, get your tickets now for Jobsite’s satire, The Thanksgiving Play. It pokes fun at us liberals, and honestly, after the past three years — three years, y’all — us liberals could use a laugh. Jobsite Theater, Oct. 25-Nov. 17.

Fairy tales for grownups

Ordinary Days at Stageworks looks to be anything but, with stories that can make you feel good about the world. Producing Artistic Director Karla Hartley tells us it will inspire you to “reconnect with people and places around you.” Stageworks Theatre, Nov. 1-17.

So hidden, Hidden Figures didn’t mention them

American Stage brings audiences Silent Sky, the stage version of Hidden Figures — with one exception: Lauren Gunderson’s play tells a story of women who did silently and thanklessly did the heavy lifting for astronomers… a generation or so before the women of Hidden Figures. Seems like there’s enough misogyny to go around. American Stage,  Nov. 20-Dec. 22.

Think of it as a Lifetime Christmas movie for anglophiles

What gets you in the Christmas mood more than a play about a king imprisoning his wife? The Lion in Winter isn’t your cable holiday flick, and thank those theater gods again for that. It is a comedy about Henry II and how he briefly lets his wife — Eleanor of Aquitaine —out of jail for the holidays. It sounds like a lofty play about a bunch of inbred nobility, but in reality, it’ll remind you that when Uncle Harry starts going off on the liberals (See: Jobsite’s The Thanksgiving Play) you’ll realize that yeah, your fam is crazy, but they’re not “lock the queen in prison and pose a threat to international relations” crazy. freeFall Theatre, Nov. 23-Dec. 22.

Holocaust heartbreak

Innovocative Theater, which performs at Stageworks (call the latter for tickets) brings the heartbreak of surviving the Holocaust — and the power of family — front and center with A Shayna Maidel. Innovocative Theater, Jan. 9-19. $30.

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About The Author

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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