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Tuesday at thestudio: A world premiere comedy podcast

Filmmaker Jim Bigham, who moved his family to St. Petersburg five years ago, is trying out a new creative pursuit – a fictional podcast centered around the science of well-being – in front of a live audience at thestudio@620.

The Pursuit of Happiness is a Bigham-scripted comedy with a message. It will be performed Tuesday, by members of St. Pete’s Radio Theatre Project players, who specialize in live performances in front of stationery microphones.

“In America, we don’t do fictional podcasts commonly – it’s more of a British, BBC form of media,” Bigham explained. “And I’ve always liked the Radio Theatre group’s format. Seeing them perform kind of inspired me a little further.”

Based in Florida for decades, Bigham was production manager on Dolphin Tale, Magic Mike, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Jeepers Creepers and many others.

More recently, he worked on Spider-Man: Far from Home and Black Widow.

His latest documentary For Once In My Life (he was both director and producer) won the Audience Awards at SXSW, Sarasota and Nashville Film Festivals.

Tuesday’s event, he explained, will be “kind of a test, just to get crowd response. See if anything sticks! I’d like to do a little Q&A at the end to get people’s honest feedback. That’s very much the idea.”

Yale professor Laurie Santos, said Bigham, “has a wonderful podcast on well-being and happiness. It’s rather dry. Not that it’s not informative, it’s just not very entertaining. I’m trying to find that middle ground.”

(The Yale one, if you’re interested, is called The Happiness Lab.)

The Pursuit of Happiness centers around Lizzie, a Gypsy jazz musician. “That’s her passion, but she also has to pay a mortgage. She has kids.

“She’s been commissioned to write a cereal jingle. So that’s the beginning of the frustration.”

The Radio Theatre Project cast includes Colleen Cherry, Jim Sorenson, Caroline Howard, Larry Alexander, Harper Zarling and Devin Rice.

“I love what they do,” said Bigham. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Garrison Keillor’s work, and that approach. I think it’s a lot of fun.”

Admission to the 8 p.m. performance Tuesday is free.

Radio Theatre Project in action at thestudio@620. Photo provided.

Bill DeYoung

Catalyst Senior Writer and Editor Bill DeYoung was a St. Petersburg Times correspondent at the age of 17. He went on to a 30-year career at newspapers in Florida and Georgia. He is the author of "Skyway: The True Story of Tampa Bay's Signature Bridge and the Man Who Brought it Down," "Phil Gernhard Record Man," "I Need to Know: The Lost Music Interviews," "Vintage St. Pete: The Golden Age of Tourism - and More" and "Vintage St. Pete Volume II: Legends, Locations, Lifestyles."

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