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Weekend forecast: Pirates and wrestlers

Bill DeYoung



The 165-foot "pirate ship" Gasparilla will make its way up to the Tampa Convention Center Saturday. Photo: visittampabay.com.

It’s a full-tilt invasion weekend, as pretend pirates and professional wrestlers descend on Tampa Bay. They’re all in costume, they’re all in character, and they’re all kinda swarthy and sweaty. The end game for both is the same: Fun, frolic and entertainment.

In Tampa, Saturday is Gasparilla Pirate Fest day. This is an annual event that’s been going on for more than a century, in which a “pirate ship” (packed with “pirates” from a group known as Ye Mystic Krewe) travel north (at approximately 11:30 a.m.) into Seddon Channel, making lots of noise, then come ashore at the Tampa Convention Center. Mayor Jane Castor will ceremoniously hand over the key to the city, and the gang offloads for a parade and a party.

More than 140 units of krewes, floats, marching bands, social organizations and more will parade – tossing beads and plastic coins – from 2 to 6 p.m., beginning at the intersection of Bay to Bay Boulevard and Bayshore Boulevard. It continues along Bayshore to Brorein Street, turns east on Brorein, then north on Ashley Drive. The parade ends at Cass Street & Ashley Drive.

That’s pretty much the location of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, where the action switches to the Pirate Fest stage, where there’ll be live music until 8 p.m.

The events are free; find all details, maps etcetera at this link.

The other big arrival is World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), bringing two of its biggest events to St. Pete and Tampa, respectively.

This, of course, is nothing new for west central Florida, as “Championship Wrestling” was broadcast from local venues – notably Tampa’s now-demolished Curtis Hixon Hall – for decades.

The schedule:

The 37th Royal Rumble, headlined by the 30-man and 30-woman Royal Rumble matches, will be broadcast internationally as pay-per-view from Tropicana Field Saturday, starting at 7:30 p.m. Find tickets here.

Mark Calaway, a.k.a. the Undertaker, will talk and take questions Sunday at the Capitol Theatre. Photo provided.

Retired professional wrestler The Undertaker (a.k.a. Mark Calaway) will appear at the Capitol Theatre in Clearwater Sunday. Tickets for the storytelling/Q&A event, called the 1deadMAN Show, are here.

WWE’s regular Monday Night RAW will be broadcast (on USA) from Amalie Arena (Tampa), live on Monday. Tickets for the 7:30 event are here.


Return visitors

Say hello once again to musicians who make annual visits to the bay area.

Puddles Pity Party, the sad clown with the uplifting singing voice, is back for another songfest Friday at the Capitol Theatre. Tickets.

Acoustic guitarist, singer and songwriter Willy Porter returns to the Palladium Theater Side Door Friday. Tickets.

Following an onstage heart attack last September in Romania, jazz guitar great Al Di Meola is in excellent health and will re-visit the Capitol Theatre (with Pinellas County’s Gumbi Ortiz, as always, on percussion, alongside Al’s electric band) Saturday. Tickets.

From Athens, Georgia, Kevn Kinney and Drivin n Cryin jangle their way into Largo’s Central Park Performing Arts Center Saturday. Tickets.


Ruben and Clay

The Catalyst spoke with American Idol’s Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken, who are appearing together Sunday at the Central Park Performing Arts Center. Here’s the interview, including a link for tickets.


Where’s the orchestra?

The great George Gershwin is celebrated by The Florida Orchestra this weekend. Sunday (8 p.m.) at the Mahaffey Theater, and Sunday (2 p.m.) in Morsini Hall, Straz Center, Tampa. John Morris Russell will conduct TFO on a program that includes pieces from Porgy & Bess, An American in Paris and more. Vocalist Tatiana Mayfield guests, along with Ray Ushikubo on piano and violin. Tickets.


Classic Black

Sunday at 5 p.m. in the Palladium Theater’s Hough Hall, it’s the return of Classic Black, the annual fundraiser for the Woodson African American Museum of Florida. The program includes performances by Black classical musicians and singers. Find out more, and buy tickets, here


Gay film fest

Tonight through Sunday (Jan. 25-28), the 34th Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) happens at Green Light Cinema, 221 2nd Avenue N. in St. Pete. There are several film screenings each day (check the schedule here) including short films and more. Find all info on the TIGLFF website.


On theater stages

Just weeks ago, local playwright Bill Leavengood’s musical about the mythical pirate Gasparilla premiered downtown. Author Tom Sivak, who also toils most notably in St. Pete theater, is debuting scenes from his Oh! Gasparella Saturday at freeFall Theater (Sivak’s players will also present scenes from his earlier work Sunshine City, The Musical).

The occasion is Pirates & Angels, the 4h annual variety show from actors and “circus performers” Nicole Hays and AJ Vaughn under their company name, the Curiositorium. It starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are here.

Also under this collective “big top” of entertainment: A chamber trio, belly dancers, a poet, a yogi, songs from Broadway and the premiere of an operetta, Triumph of Spring, by Chris Romeo and Dewey Davis-Thompson.

Meanwhile, American Stage’s How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse enters its final weekend on the wilderness trail at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (read all about this unique theatrical experience here).

And the Jobsite production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night continues in the Jaeb Theatre, at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa (tickets here). Cast member Giles Davies guests on Friday’s episode of our Arts Alive! podcast.

The Weekend Forecast appears every Thursday in the Catalyst

Please add us to your mailing list – send all press releases and event info to bill@stpetecatalyst.com.

You can also submit your events to the Catalyst calendar, by clicking here.












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