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Stageworks’ next season includes returning favorites

Bill DeYoung

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The ladies of Stageworks' "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" will celebrate Christmas this year. Image: Stage Photography of Tampa.

Author and playwright Mark E. Leib’s When the Righteous Triumph was so popular in its first run, Tampa’s Stageworks Theatre Company is doing it again.

A dramatization of the 1960 “sit-ins” by Black citizens at segregated Tampa lunch counters, Leib’s play had its world premiere as part of the 40th season, 2022-23.

Stageworks’ just-revealed schedule for 2024-25 includes a new limited-run production of When the Righteous Triumph. It will be staged March 12-14 at the Jaeb Theater, in the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts, a roomier space with more seating than Stageworks’ home theater at 1120 East Kennedy Blvd.

RELATED: Arts Alive! podcast: Playwright Mark E. Leib

“When the Righteous Triumph” in 2023. Photo provided.

The other five shows in the Season 42 will be staged at home. Another highlight of 2024-2025, The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical (Nov. 29-Dec. 22) is a sequel to the biggest Stageworks show of last season (same title, but without the word “Christmas”). Several members of the original cast will return for the holiday romp through North Florida’s Armadillo Acres, with some new characters, some new songs and more of the same trailer park shenanigans.

The season opens with the Sept. 27-Oct. 13 What the Constitution Means to Me, written and first performed on Broadway by Heidi Schreck in 2019. It’s essentially a one-woman monologue in which Schreck examines the foundations of American democracy, starting with herself as a 15-year-old, and how the Constitution will shape the next generation of American women. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and for Best Play at the Tony Awards. The New Yorker called What the Constitution Means to Me a “brilliantly crafted show, harrowing and funny and humane, that accesses the political through the deeply personal.”

After Trailer Park Christmas comes The People Downstairs by Tampa playwright Natalie Symons. It’s a dark comedy about a lonely, nearly blind agoraphobic who lives with her mortician father, and her unlikely suitor, a clumsy funeral home employee. The People Downstairs was workshopped at American Stage in St. Petersburg, which put on the world premiere in 2021. Symons’ other plays Lark Eden and Nightsweat have also been produced locally.

Next on the schedule is When the Righteous Triumph, and that limited run is followed by the return of Morningside, another show that broke Stageworks attendance records when it ran in February 2020. In Topher Payne’s comedy, nine women gather for a baby shower. Family wounds are opened, simmering rifts are exposed, friendships are tested. Alcohol flows. The laughs are intense. April 25-May 11, 2025.

The season ends June 6-29, 2025 with a cabaret show from none other than jazz vocal legend Billie Holiday. Lady Day at the Emerson Bar and Grill, written by Lanie Robertson, finds the troubled chanteuse accompanied by an onstage piano player. She sings all of her best-known songs, and explains the meaning behind some (including the haunting “Strange Fruit”) and, sometimes, how they came to be written or recorded. In between songs, Holiday tells stories of her years of abuse and ripoffs by men, her drinking and the drug addiction that plagued her to her final days. Bay area audiences may have caught Lady Day at the Emerson Bar & Grill  in its freeFall (St. Petersburg) production in 2022.

The final show in Stageworks’ current season, James Lapine and William Finn’s musical Falsettos, runs June 7-23. Falsettos won three Tony Awards in 1992.

Season tickets are available now for the 2024-25 season at the Stageworks website.

 

 

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