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Your weekend arts forecast: Gasparilla Film Festival, fresh Pride events

Bill DeYoung



Matthew McGee as SHINE's "Fairy Dragmother." Photo: St. Petersburg Arts Alliance.

The Gasparilla International Film Festival has returned for 2021, with screenings between today (Thursday, June 10) and Sunday at the Tampa Theatre. It’s live-in-person, but it also has a virtual component, which you can investigate here.

Justin, left, and Christian Long. Photo: Gasparilla International Film Festival.

Tonight’s opener is Lady of the Manor, a comedy written and directed by actor Justin Long and his brother Christian. The siblings shot the film in and around Tampa and St. Petersburg in early 2020, and the cast features Ryan Phillippe, Patrick Duffy, Judy Greer, Luis Guzmán, Melanie Lynskey … and Justin Long.

The supporting cast includes Andi Matheny, the longtime St. Pete acting coach who recently decamped for New York, and several other local performers.

Studio distribution has not yet been announced.

Justin Long (Galaxy Quest, Jeepers Creepers, Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and Tusk) explained the Lady of the Manor storyline to “It’s about a woman, a slacker-stoner character, who gets a job as a tour guide in an antebellum manor in the South,” he said. “She dresses up as the lady who lived there, and the ghost of the woman whom she’s portraying gets offended by how she’s being portrayed. She’s a proper Southern lady, and this crass stoner ‘fornicator’ is playing her. That’s what brings them together, and it becomes an odd-couple comedy.”

Justin and Christian Long will participate in a Q&A following the screening.

All details on the Gasparilla International Film Festival are available here.

A Pride weekend

Pride Month is in full swing, and the long-awaited Once Upon a Shine/A Very Gay Mural Scavenger Hunt! begins Saturday at 9 a.m. Using app technology developed by PixelStix, the company that created the self-guided tours for the SHINE Festival downtown murals, this event brings us “Fairy Dragmother” Matthew McGee in a hunt for Cinderella’s lost stiletto. Her witty “clues” are designed to send treasure hunters scurrying from one mural to the next, with a big ol’ prize in store for the ultimate winner.

“Bringing people joy is no easy task,” the versatile McGee said in a press release. “Happy to wrap myself in sequins and support garments for this exciting and creative endeavor.”

Participation is free; registration is mandatory. Everything you need to know is here.

And We Are Family, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, is a family-friendly event at the St. Pete Pier and Straub Park. For $5, you’ll be in the sunny company of vendors, entertainers and LGBTQ+ families and allies. A splendid time, as they say, is guaranteed for all.

And still more

It’s Second Saturday Art Walk time again, and no, the trolleys still aren’t running due to distancing mandates, but several dozen studios and galleries will be open, at varying times during the day, to welcome visitors. And as we wrote about Wednesday, there’ll be a reading at 5 p.m. in the Word Garden, at the Factory, from four local poets who have new volumes in print. Keep St. Pete Lit’s Poetry Open Mic follows at 7 p.m.

Sunday (2 p.m.) is the first show in a four-performance series of the opera Pagliacci, fully staged (with orchestra) and costumed at the Palladium Theater by the prodigious talents at St. Petersburg Opera Company. The shows continue June 15, 18 and 20. This is SPO’s first fully-realized, complete opera since just before Covid, in early 2020. Here’s our story from earlier this week.

Once again, Tampa is the center of the universe, as far as professional theater, and things are looking good: There’s Friday’s premiere of the incredibly spooky-looking “junk opera” Shockheaded Peter at Jobsite (in the Straz Center); Every Brilliant Thing, the inspirational one-man show from Tampa Rep (with Ned Averill-Snell) is in its second weekend – with free tickets – in the garden at Ybor City Museum State Park; and Stageworks’ culture-clash comedy The Lady From Havana is also in its second weekend.

Mary González, left, Lillian Almodóvar and Lily García in Stageworks’ “The Lady From Havana.” Photo: Karla Hartley.

Luis Santeiro’s play concerns Marita, who comes from Cuba but has made a home in Miami, dealing with the arrival of her mother, who’s rich, spoiled and very old-school Cubana. Mama brings her former maid, Zoila, along for what begins as a very bumpy American ride.

The cast includes Lily García (Mama), Mary González (Marita) and Lillian Almodóvar as Zoila.

No spoilers here, but Act Two turns the storyline on its head. “The anger of the characters is real,” wrote the New York Times reviewer, “but Mr. Santeiro, keeping his eye steadfastly on the absurdity of the human condition, makes it all ridiculous.”

Santeiro was a member of the writing staff of Sesame Street for 29 years, and as such was the recipient of 29 Daytime Emmy Awards.

Details and tickets for The Lady From Havana are here.


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