American Stage

Jobsite´s season was hit and miss, Stageworks´ Medea was too naturalistic for its own good, Gorilla Theatre turned back into a rental house — but American Stage, under the leadership of new artistic director Todd Olson, presented one impressive show after the next, with often inspiring acting and superb directing. First there was Marie Jones´ Stones in His Pockets, about the intrusion of a Hollywood film company on a remote Irish village. Two actors played 15 characters, and the result was both amusing and very moving. Then came A Moon For the Misbegotten, Eugene O´Neill´s loving tribute to his brother James, in a production so fine that even the smallest details were illuminated. Next was David Sedaris´ Santaland Diaries, which, if a bit too misanthropic for every taste, was at least a nice digression from the usual Christmas fare. And that was followed by the daring and provocative Spinning Into Butter, Rebecca Gilman´s meditation on white racism and political correctness. As has so often happened in the past, American Stage was the only Bay area company to produce a Shakespeare play last season — and that one, Much Ado About Nothing, if not without failings, featured a wonderful Beatrice, a superb Don Pedro, and a winning Leonato. God´s Man in Texas, the story of a power struggle in an enormous Baptist church, was the next successful offering of the American Stage theater year, and it all came to a close with Olson and David Grapes´ good-natured My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra. Yes, Virginia, there is a regional theater in the Tampa Bay area that offers first-rate programming and dependably fine acting. It´s called American Stage and we´re lucky to have it.

American Stage, 211 Third St. S., St. Petersburg, 727-823-PLAY,