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Spring awakening: The month of March in the arts

Bill DeYoung



James Caan and Kathy Bates in the film version of Stephen King's "Misery" (1990). Photo: Columbia PIctures.

Two bay area professional theater groups have frontloaded March with big hits penned by big names (not Shakespeare, however). Most anticipated is the March production from Jobsite, the resident company of Tampa’s David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

Summer Bohnenkamp and David Jenkins. Photo: Jobsite.

Opening March 15, Misery is a stage adaptation of the Stephen King psychological thriller, famously turned into a Rob Reiner-directed film with James Caan as romance writer Paul Sheldon and Kathy Bates (who took home an Academy Award) as his totally twisted “number one fan” Annie Wilkes.

Paul Potenza is directing the show, with Jobsite artistic director David Jenkins as Paul, and Summer Bohnenkamp as Annie.

In St. Petersburg, freeFall Theatre’s next production, opening March 24, has the unwieldy title Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (we’ll just refer to it as Baskerville, moving forward). It is, as you might have guessed, a Holmes adaptation written by the estimable Mr. Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy For You) and its two stars are impressive, too: Eric Davis (as Holmes) and Matthew McGee (as Dr. Watson). Yes, freeFall’s own Batman-and-Robin admin team, onstage together at last.

March 3-5 brings the 2023 edition of American Stage’s Lift Every Voice: New Play Festival. Held at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, it will include five readings of new plays currently in development, conversations and forums with working artists, and a keynote address from playwright Regina Victor.

Look for a full story on Lift Every Voice Monday in the Catalyst.

LAB Theater Project (Ybor City) has Paula Fell’s fable The Rooster’s Tale March 2-19.

The Off-Central (St. Pete) debuts the comedy Native Gardens March 16-26.

Stageworks Theatre (Tampa) is producing the premiere of Tampa playwright Mark E. Leib’s civil rights drama When the Righteous Triumph starting March 24.

And the Straz Center’s Broadway-on-Tour series continues with Wicked March 8-26.

Violinist Itzhak Perlman. Photo: Primo Artists.

Orchestra & Opera

TFO’s going all popular-culture again, with a March 3 and 4 Straz Center high definition screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, accompanied by – that’s right – the orchestra performing live.

The Soundwaves chamber series continues with The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (also, no big-screen Fantasia this go-round) March 9 at Clearwater’s historic Church of the Ascension, and March 12 at the Palladium Theater.

March 10 and 12 at the Straz Center, TFO accompanies Opera Tampa for performances of Pagliacci, and legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman joins the orchestra for its annual fundraising gala concert at the Mahaffey Theater.

March 18 and 19, it’s back to pops again with Harry Potter vs. Star Wars at the Mahaffey and Ruth Eckerd Hall.

St. Petersburg Opera Company is at the Palladium March 24, 26 and 28 with Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio.


Rock, pop, country

Raymond James Stadium plays host to the 2023 Innings Festival, baseball-themed but featuring concert stages with performances by Dave Matthews Band, the Avett Brothers, Imagine Dragons, Weezer, Pitbull, Marcus Mumford and more. March 18 and 19.

A couple of big spring tours stopping at Amalie Arena, including Blake Shelton (March 3), Great Van Fleet (March 10) and the Eagles (March 28).

Here’s a rare one: 1970s British pop legend Leo Sayer (“When I Need You,” “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing”) is on his first American tour in a long time – he’s playing Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo March 21.

Coming to the Palladium: March 2, Sarasota jazz vocalist Synia Carroll returns with her popular interpretations of Nina Simone songs. The concert will feature a series of projected photographs by the late Herb Snitzer, a longtime friend of the music icon. March 6: Cowboy Bebop Live – A 14-piece jazz orchestra provides the live soundtrack for a film chronicling the story of the Japanese animation style known as anime. March 8: The Palladium Chamber Series brigs in the acclaimed trio Time For Three. March 11: The annual Women of Jazz concert, with Valerie Gillespie, Judi Glover, Belinda Womack, Theo Valentin, Ona Kirei and others.

Ruth Eckerd Hall: Lyle Lovett and His Acoustic Group (Leland Sklar, Jeff White and Luke Bulla), Feb. 28 and March 1; Steve Miller, March 23; Johnny Mathis, March 25.

Meanwhile, it’s a big ol’ month at Ruth’s sister venue, the Capitol Theatre: Highlights are Gino Vannelli, March 3; Russell Brand, March 6; Spyro Gyra, March 12; Righteous Brothers (aka Bill Medley and some other guy), March 13; John Lodge, March 14; Martin Sexton, March 17; Eric Johnson, March 18; Gordon Lightfoot, March 22; Rick Wakeman, March 25.

Here are highlights of the headline entertainment at the Plant City Strawberry Festival March 2-12: Willie Nelson (sold out); Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, Wayne Newton (!), Train, Isley Brothers, Tommy James & the Shondells (!!), CeCe Winans, Ludacris, King + Country, Sara Evans, Halestorm, Walker Hayes, Neal McCoy and the band that insists on billing itself as Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Cheap Trick plays the Seminole Hard Rock Live event center March 7; comedian Iliza Shlesinger has two shows there on the 17th; Aaron Lewis peforms March 20 and 21; the 23rd brings Michael Bolton; Skid Row and Buckcherry share a March 28 bill.

Remember that all dates are subject to change, and that some things – even the most awesome and amazing shows – might not have been announced yet. So watch the Catalyst arts section.




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