Planet Picks

MARCH 03 THURSDAY

CELEBRATING FLORIDA'S JUICY RED GEMS The Florida Strawberry Festival is like a smaller, less fashionable version of the Florida State Fair, except that the headliners are all first-rate country stars (Lorrie Morgan, Vince Gill, Clint Black and Wayne Newton, to name a few) and the food, while varied, takes a back seat to the strawberries, which can be found in recipes ranging from shortcake and cobbler to more obscure eats like strawberry soup, tacos and lasagna. The community fair also features exhibitors and displays of agriculture, commerce, industry, livestock, fine arts, crafts and horticulture, as well as social events, competitive contests, youth programs, live entertainment, parades, carnival rides and more. 10 a.m.-11 p.m. through March 13. $9 ages 13 and older, $5 ages 6 to 12, and children 5 and younger enter free; reserved seating tickets for concert events are an additional $10-$15 each. 2202 W. Reynolds St., Plant City, 813-752-9194.

SPEAK EASY The [email protected] continues its endeavor to promote local creativity with SAY WHAT? - A Spoken Word Event. This program celebrates the diversity and richness of the Bay area's spoken word community with over two weeks' worth of events featuring poets, artists, musicians, dancers, poetry workshops, youth programs and more. This week's highlights include: an adult music and spoken word workshop headed by New York-based group Positive Knowledge (1 p.m. Sat., March 5, $5); an all-ages workshop, "Drum Speaks," taught by members of Dundu Dole Urban African Ballet Company (1 p.m. Sun., March 6, $5); a young poets workshop presented by performance artist Kwabena Dinzulu (3 p.m. Sun., March 6, $5); an evening celebration with multimedia works by Florida poet laureate Edmund Skellings, as well as a play-on-words poetry theater production, "Spittin' Images" (8 p.m. Sun., March 6, $5); and "Looking Back," a happening that finds local poets reading historical works, along with other special performances (8 p.m. Wed., March 9, $3). March 3-19. 620 First Ave. S., St. Petersburg; for a complete schedule of events, call 727-895-6620 or visit www.thestudioat620.com.

MARCH 04 FRIDAY

COLORFUL EXPRESSIONS OF CUBA Alfredo Sosabravo is a significant contemporary Cuban artist who's received numerous accolades for his works, which include paintings of vibrant, surreal characters that allow a glimpse into his fertile imagination. Flora Fong, also a Cuban native, is a graduate of the National School of Art in Havana and a former professor of art at the San Alejandro Academy. She's exhibited widely in the Americas, Europe and Asia, her paintings revealing colorful celebrations of the natural world. Both artists are featured in the Gulf Coast Museum of Art's latest show, Out of Cuba. Dr. Carol Damian facilitates a slide lecture about the artists and exhibit tonight at 6:30 p.m.; a preview reception follows from 7 to 9 p.m. ($10 admission, free to museum members). 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sat., and noon-4 p.m. Sun., through May 1. $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 students; museum members and children 10 and younger enter free. GCMA is located in Pinewood Cultural Park, 12211 Walsingham Road, Largo, 727-518-6833.

FISHER'S FRISCO Tonight, Gypsy Productions, "The Theatrical Alternative," opens John Fisher's The Joy of Gay Sex, a play about a group of friends - gay, lesbian and curious - who pursue romance in San Francisco during the mid '90s. The main focus is Paul, an outspoken young writer who discovers that the joy of his first love affair is spoiled by his uncompromising opinions and exceedingly fervent politics. In the midst of all the satirical drama, Paul and the rest of the play's characters address the audience with personal commentary, expressing their innermost desires via impromptu musical standards from the Golden Age of Hollywood, like "I'll Be Seeing You," "Night and Day" and "You're the Top." Directed by Trevor Keller. 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat., and 1:30 p.m. Sun., through March 27. $16. Suncoast Theatre, 3400 34th St. S., St. Petersburg, 727-456-0500.

MARCH 05 SATURDAY

EARLY FIGARO There's nothing wrong with a good tragic opera, but for those who favor grins over grief, Ruth Eckerd obliges with Rossini's rollicking comedy masterpiece, The Barber of Seville. This prequel to Mozart's Marriage of Figaro features the infamous title character as a barber-turned-matchmaker for Count Almaviva, a Spanish nobleman who enlists Figaro's help in wooing the beautiful Rosina away from her arrogant and greedy benefactor, Dr. Bartolo. Of course, the dirty old Doc has plans to marry her himself, and he won't give up without a fight. Tonight, you can enjoy a fully-staged performance by Teatro Lirico D' Europa', the only touring company that travels with a complete orchestra and chorus, so we've been told. 8 p.m. $35-$45. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater, 727-791-7400.

TROTTIN' INTO TAMPA I know nothing about basketball, but even I've heard of the Harlem Globetrotters, a team that's been dodging, dunking and rebounding since 1927. This is also the team that claimed the whistled version of jazz standard "Sweet Georgia Brown" as its official theme song, incorporated light entertainment and comedic routines into a normally aggressive sport, played over 20,000 games in more than 100 countries around the world, and became the first and only sports team to be honored with its own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. If your interest is piqued, the Harlem Globetrotters face the New York Nationals today at the St. Pete Times Forum. Stick around after the game to enjoy a 30-minute meet-and-greet session, where you can get autographs and mingle with your favorite Globetrotter guys. 1 p.m. $16.75-$41.75. 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa, 813-223-1000.

MARCH 08 TUESDAY

3-2-1 As part of its 2004-05 Broadway Series, Van Wezel Performing Arts Center presents Contact, a musical extravaganza featuring three thematically-linked short stories told mostly through dance. The first, "Swinging," was inspired by an 18th-century French painting set in a rustic forest clearing, where a beautiful young woman soars on a swing while two men look on. The second, "Did You Move?" takes place in the 1950s at an Italian restaurant, where the soft-spoken heroine is trapped in a loveless marriage and escapes from her obnoxious husband through a series of romantic and comic fantasies. The last, "Contact," is set in present-day New York and follows a successful businessman who's mysteriously drawn to a beautiful young woman in a yellow dress. Susan Stroman's award-winning choreography is set to a varied soundtrack of tunes ranging from Dean Martin and The Beach Boys to Robert Palmer and The Squirrel Nut Zippers. 8 p.m. $40-$60. Van Wezel Performing Arts Center, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, 941-953-3368, www.vanwezel.org.

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