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Looking ahead: The month of March in the Arts

Bill DeYoung



Singer and actress Nellie McKay performs March 26 at the Palladium Side Door. Photo provided.

That Paul Wilborn, he’s a crafty one. Slowly but surely, the executive director of St. Petersburg College’s Palladium Theater has been building a cabaret series in the Side Door, the venue’s intimate lower-level club.

The Side Door has a small, three-feet-off-the-floor stage. And it seats approximately 180, and everyone sits at round tables, with real tablecloths, and every seat is just steps from the bar. All of which spells cabaret, old chum.

Wilborn is upping the ante considerably in March, with several cabaret shows that are unlike anything we’ve seen around St. Pete, at the Side Door or anyplace else, for that matter.

Australian music and comedy star Queenie van de Zandt is making a short swing through the United States, with a small band and a show called Blue: The Songs of Joni Mitchell. Here’s a taste:

Queenie and the guys will play the Palladium Side Door Saturday, March 21. Wilborn expects this one to sell out quickly (anyone who was at the Florida Bjorkestra’s 2019 Joni tribute knows how great those songs are).

Thursday, March 26 brings British/American singer, actress and longtime animal rights activist Nellie McKay, whose music has been heard on Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Weeds, Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS, Nurse Jackie and others. McKay has made numerous radio appearances on NPR’s Mountain Stage, A Prairie Home Companion, eTown, and Marion McPartland’s Piano Jazz.

She also conceived and performed musical biographies of Barbara Graham, Rachel Carson, Joan Rivers and Billy Tipton (named one of the Best Concerts of the Year by The New York Times).

The March Side Door calendar also includes the new York swing ensemble Svetlana and the Delancey 5, complete with dance floor (this Saturday, March 7); Women of Jazz XV (March 8), singer/songwriter and guitarist Willy Porter (March 12); the Irish Comedy Tour (March 15); jazz saxophonist Cathy Lopez and her band (March 31).

In the theater

“The People Downstairs.” Photo: Joey Clay.

American Stage returns March 13 with The People Downstairs, a comedy by local playwright Natalie Symons. The script – about a young mortician and his dodgy relationship with a middle-aged agoraphobic – was first submitted for the company’s 2018 New Play Festival.

Symons became American Stage’s playwright-in-residence as the show was workshopped and molded.

“From the beginning, from the first table read, this play came out of the gate so strong,” says artistic director Stephanie Gularte. “Not fully cooked, but … you could really see it. She knew where she was going with the story, and she had such a great grasp of the characters, and the language, so early on.

“Then I saw the reactions of the audiences at the staged readings. It was so beautifully funny, really smart-funny. And real funny is hard to find!”

The People Downstairs is also a collaboration of sorts with freeFall Theater, whose associate artistic director Chris Crawford is directing.

Meanwhile, in Tampa, Jobsite Theatre’s head honcho David M. Jenkins is making one of his infrequent stage appearances in John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt: A Parable, one of the most popular dramatic plays of the last 20 years. It won the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Award.

Jenkins plays parish priest Father Flynn, who may or may not have engaged in sexual misconduct with a young boy in his charge; conservative nun Sister Aloysius (played by the dynamic Roxanne Fay) investigates, with deep and dire consequences.

Doubt, which also features Caitlin Eason and Andresia Moseley, runs March 13-April 5.

Stageworks Theater tables all the laughs generated during the recent run of Morningside to launch the classic 1950s drama 12 Angry Men, by Reginald Rose, March 20.

It’s called a courtroom drama, but it doesn’t take place there – the dozen gentlemen in question are jurors, locked in their sweaty deliberation room, attempting to decide the guilt or innocence of a young boy on trial for murder.

More in March

The Gasparilla Music Festival takes place March 7 and 8 (this coming weekend) at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa. Headliners include Brandi Carlile, Portugal The Man, De La Soul, Rivals Sons, The Word and others. Look for a closeup on the event over the coming days here in the Catalyst.

Bookending that, Cher is at Amalie Arena March 26.



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