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Your weekend arts forecast: Capitol comedy and an American Stage premiere

Bill DeYoung



The "hip hop fairy tale" "Vietgone" is starting its first weekend at American Stage. Photo: Joey Clay.

It could be successfully argued that it’s always a good time for political lampoonery – Washington has given us no shortage of “if we don’t laugh, we’ll cry” moments in these post-Nixon years. As for the current climate? Well, this isn’t the forum for discussing it.

However, Capitol Steps, the venerable D.C.-based comedy troupe, has more to satirize and deflate these days than ever before, let’s say that much. And when the group arrives for this Saturday’s show at the Palladium, The Lyin’ Kings, you’d better believe they’ll be loaded for big-time bear. Tickets here.

Good evening, Vietnam

American Stage, the oldest professional theater in Tampa Bay, roars back into the limelight this week with a show called Vietgone. Marvel Comics writer Qui Nguyen’s semi-autobiographical comedy is described as a “hip hop fairy tale” that takes place in the aftermath of the 1975 fall of Saigon.

According to the New York Times, the play, which is heavy with rap music and other cultural anachronisms, “strafes just about every subject it tackles and every character it presents. Sure, sometimes it wobbles uncertainly between satire and sentiment, but Mr. Nguyen’s fresh and impish voice rarely lets up as he thumbs his nose at our expectations.”

American Stage’s Producing Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte said, in a press release, “I think Qui Nguyen’s unique story about the courtship of his refugee parents during the Vietnam War, as they try to make a new home in America, will be an unexpected and truly rewarding adventure for our audiences.”

Vietgone is onstage tonight (Thursday) and will continue through Nov. 3. Tickets here.

Music and dance

The Beatles are in the local news today, oh boy, and while the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road was a big talking point last week, the latest has nothing to do with that pivotal pop recording.

First of all, area musician and composer Tom Sivak, who thrilled and chilled us all not so long ago with the chamber opera Love v. Death, will perform selections from his The Well-Tempered Lennon McCartney (Seven polyphonic arrangements for piano) at thestudio@620 tonight (Thursday, Oct. 3)

It’s part of the program for Tom and Paula Kramer’s 65th wedding anniversary celebration – the community is invited to share the evening with St. Pete’s First Couple of Movement (Paula, of course, is a dancer/choreographer, while her husband’s photographs are on exhibit through Oct. 12; read about that extraordinary collection here). The free event is tied up with the monthlong Dance Hall Festival at thestudio.

Tonight’s performance centerpiece is Mad Science, a multi-disciplinary work from playwright Sheila Cowley, who’s wickedly skilled at collaborating creatively with dancers, artists and actors. Mad Science is described as “a 15-minute comedy with strong female characters” which “reminds us to look up at the universe – and not forget the wonders underfoot.”

And the Dance Hall Festival, as varied as it can be, carries on. Clearwater’s Dundu Dole African Ballet is onstage at thestudio@620 at 7 p.m. Friday, with a performance called Motherland on My Mind. Tickets here.

Oh yes, the other Beatles thing: Jeff Tyzik is conducting The Florida Orchestra for this weekend’s performances of Revolution: The Music of the Beatles. The concert, at the Straz Center in Tampa Friday, St. Pete’s Mahaffey Theater Saturday, and Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater Sunday (all of them evening shows), features TFO with a rock band and a couple of singers.

The program leans towards latter-day Beatles tunes, the more complex arrangements of “Here Comes the Sun,” Penny Lane,” “Hey Jude” and the like, for which Tyzik (a trumpeter and jazz/pop great who worked with Chuck Mangione for years) has written new orchestrations.

Tickets are available here.

And now, this

The Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and screening 97 films from 25 countries, most of them at the Tampa Theatre. Mayor Jane Castor will speak at the opening night celebration Friday (at 6 p.m.); the film that evening is Sell By, actor/director Mike Doyle’s ensemble comedy. Here’s the schedule.

Last weekend for the Steve Martin comedy Meteor Shower at Jobsite Theatre. Onstage at freeFall, it’s Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw; Stageworks has got Wait Until Dark.

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