As the winter weather begins to thaw (hopefully), St. Petersburg’s arts and entertainment scene heats up exponentially. January was a busy month, but February … well, it’s off the charts. Let’s look at a few highlights.
Before we get started: Make a note that the 2019 St. Petersburg Tiny Home Festival has been firmed up for Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24 at the St. Petersburg College Allstate Center. Last year’s inaugural event was completely sold out by opening day. Early-bird tickets are available here. You’re welcome.
In February, a multitude of events – drama, music, dance, literature – are connected to our city’s month-long Celebration of the Arts, centered around the theme of William Shakespeare. We wrote about the umbrella festival here, and the first show on the menu, St. Petersburg Opera’s Kiss Me, Kate, here.
Tonight (Feb. 1), illusionists Penn and Teller bring their Las Vegas show – where wit, intellect and silliness meet amazement both high and low-tech – to the Mahaffey Theater. Tickets for last year’s postponed performance (Teller, the silent one, had a medical issue) will, of course, be honored tonight.
British musical theater legend Sarah Brightman (perhaps best remembered as Christine in the West End version of The Phantom of the Opera, written by her ex-husband, Andrew Lloyd Webber) has a Mahaffey date Feb. 19. The elfin singer with the three-octave range has sold more than 30 million records.
The Chinese historical dance-and-music show Shen Yun is at the waterfront venue for its annual residency Feb. 20-24.
Dailey & Vincent, one of the hottest acts in contemporary bluegrass, will appear at the Palladium Theater Monday, Feb. 18. Jamie Dailey (guitar) and Darrin Vincent (mandolin, guitar, bass) have golden pedigrees: Jamie was a card-carrying member of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and Darrin played with Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder.
(Darrin, by the way, is the younger brother of bluegrass legend Rhonda Vincent, the mandolin wizard who’ll be coming to the Palladium in April, with her crackerjack band The Rage).
Returning to the Palladium Feb. 26 is the vocalist known as Puddles Pity Party – he’s a depressed clown, in whiteface makeup, a baggy Pierrot suit and a frayed crown, and he stands 6-foot-8. But Puddles – whose real name is Mike Geier – sings with an incredibly resonant baritone voice. You might have seen him on America’s Got Talent.
Check out this clip – viewed 25 million times on YouTube – of the “sulking serenader” crooning Lorde’s “Royals” with the amazing Postmodern Jukebox:
Or his interpretation of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars”:
He has a fan base of more than 351,000 on Facebook, and more than 457,000 subscribers to the Puddles Pity Party YouTube channel.
Last year’s Palladium show sold out. “Puddles performs mostly current pop and classic rock songs sung with fantastic video projected behind him,” reads the theater’s website. “With audience participation a big part of the show, Puddles Pity Party is equal parts music, comedy and theater, and a show thoroughly enjoyed by the young, young at heart and everyone in between!”
It’s a big month for the Florida Orchestra, too. Seal (“Kiss From a Rose”) sings with the symphony for its annual fundraising gala Feb. 9, with Michael Francis conducting, at the Mahaffey. Sometime conductor Jeff Tyzik will have the baton this Saturday (Feb. 2) for a sizzling Latin-inspired program, Dreams of Spain. Soprano Camille Zamora, bandoneonist Hector del Curto and tango dancers Hugo Patyn and Celina Rotundo will perform as well; if you’re booked for Saturday night, this very program is also happening tonight (Friday, Feb. 1) at the Straz Center in Tampa.
Holst’s extra-celestial The Planets gets a three-performance Florida Orchestra workout, all of them accompanied by enormous, projected images of space provided by NASA. Here are the dates: Friday, Feb. 15 at the Straz Center; Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Mahaffey; Sunday, Feb. 17 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater.
The orchestra has other performances during the month (including several with Shakespearean roots). See the full calendar here.
Again, these are just highlights. It’s a jam-packed February – watch this space for more details as the month progresses.