Seeing as it’s Memorial Day Weekend, how about the we take the long stretch to consider the upcoming month in our arts community? Not everyone is going to be out in full force this month, but things are stirring – there are more creative pursuits on the June calendar than there have been in a good long while, particularly in the performing arts.
Of course, things get added all the time, even at the last minute, so watch the Catalyst for the latest updates.
St. Petersburg Opera Company returns to full strength with a production of Pagliacci at the Palladium Theater, June 13, 15, 18 and 20. This is a particularly big deal because, although seating separation and audience masks are still required, SPO has been making do with outdoor “pop-up” shows and, in recent months, small concerts of the “greatest hits” variety. Pagliacci will be presented as a full-length opera – with sets, costumes, orchestra, the works.
The cast includes SPO tenor Chris Romeo as the tortured clown Canio, with Hannah Bramer as Nedda. Other majors are Alexander Boyd, Jake Skipworth and Dylan Morrongiello.
Out of the blue and into the stripes: The Louisiana rock ‘n’ roll power trio Zebra, which still includes all the original members (Randy Jackson, Guy Gelso and Felix Hanemann) – plays the Central Park Performing Arts Center June 5 and 6. And New Orleans’ Rebirth Brass Band performs at the Largo concert venue June 18.
The schedule at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall/Capitol Theatre (always subject to last-minute change) looks like this: June 4, Allman Betts Band; June 5, Hot Tuna Acoustic; June 9, Jake Shimabukuro; June 13, Travis Tritt; June 17, Classic Albums Live plays Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; June 19, Bill Maher.
Blues guitarist Selwyn Birchwood is onstage once again at the Palladium Theater June 26.
Here’s where the meat meets the muscle, as it were. On both sides of Tampa Bay, professional and semi-professional theater companies have been itching to get back onstage, and have been trying various socially-distanced ways of doing so. In June, things begin to blossom.
The Rose and the Beast. Freefall Theatre (St. Pete) moves back indoors after a lengthy period of Covid-caused invention (necessity being the mother, after all). Opening June, this adaptation of the novel by Francesca Block employs visual storytelling, theater design, multimedia and augmented reality. Nine groups of four people each will move through a series of small rooms, in which a different Francesca Block-style version (dark and twisted) of a classic fairy tale is being … presented.
Mayday: Captain Lerro and the Skyway Bridge. Full disclosure – this was written by yours truly, based in part on my non-fiction book Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay’s Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down. The Catalyst is a sponsor. It’s a one-man show with Michael Horn as John Lerro, the hapless harbor pilot who, caught in a powerful freak storm, steered a freighter into the bridge in 1980. Exonerated in court, Lerro nevertheless felt a lifetime’s worth of guilt over the deaths of 35 motorists. Directed by Roxanne Fay. June 26 and 27 at thestudio@620 (St. Pete).
Every Brilliant Thing. Tampa Repertory Theatre remains cautious about a return to live performance, this show (opening June 3) will be staged outdoors at Ybor City Museum State Park. Written by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe, it stars the incomparable Ned Averill-Snell. The Guardian (U.K.) had this to say: “[A] heart-wrenching, hilarious play … One of the funniest plays you’ll ever see about depression—and possibly one of the funniest plays you’ll ever see, full stop.”
The Lady From Havana. Stageworks (Tampa) opens Luis Santero’s comedy June 4, about a Cuban woman (Lily Garcia) who has to deal with extreme culture shock upon moving to Miami to join her daughter. JL Rey directs, and the cast also includes Mary González and Lillian Almodóvar. Stageworks says it’s “The Golden Girls – Cuban style.”
Shockheaded Peter. Jobsite Theater (Tampa) got back into the live realm in January; opening June 11, this is the fourth new show from the uber-creative troupe (based at the Straz Center). Based on the 1845 German children’s book Struwwelpeter, it’s a very, very dark cautionary tale concerning disobedient children getting their comeuppance. Did we mention it’s dark? More like Sweeney Todd than Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory dark. The cast includes numerous Jobsite stalwarts.
Plus (+). Off Kilter Theatre (The Mar, St. Pete) celebrates Pride (that’s the entire month of June) with a musical play written and directed by company founder Derek Baxter. “This show,” he says, “intends to highlight not only the happiness that the month brings but spread awareness on the different identities that make up the joyous vibrations that are LGBTQIA+.” Opens June 11.
Fine art and more
The St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival is back in action June 5 with Soliloquies for St. Petersburg – Live!, starting at 6:30 p.m. in Williams Park. They’re traditionally male soliloquies, performed by an all-female cast. It’s free.
Opening June 19 at the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, Ergo Sum: A Crow a Day is a series of 365 illustrations by Canadian artist Karen Bondarchuk, who drew a different crow or raven every day as a tribute to her mother, who was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Bondarchuk drew these birds – in all manner of flight, fight, chatter and perch – to mark the passing of time that her mother was unable to comprehend (one illustration every day for a year). The body of work, according to the museum, “explores communication and an artist’s relationship to the world; it resonates for its depth, beauty, and whimsy.”