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Your weekend arts forecast: Latimore, Hippiefest, farewell ‘Fun Home’

Bill DeYoung

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David Mann is both sympathetic and terrifying as Bruce Bechdel in American Stage's "Fun Home." Photo: Beth Reynolds.

In Florida Soul: From Ray Charles to KC and the Sunshine Band, writer John Capouya describes the R&B singer Latimore as “a bluesier, grittier, and less hefty Barry White.”

Indeed, Latimore’s chart-topping “Let’s Straighten it Out” (1974) is sexy and sinewy, pure red-light bedroom baritone groove. “In his singing and songwriting,” Capouya writes, “Latimore created and maintained a distinct persona, that of a love man who combines the romantic and the overtly sexual in just the right combination or alternations, and that’s won him a loyal female following.”

Latimore. Photo: Palladium Theater.

Latimore – his first name is Benny, but he doesn’t use it – performs Saturday at the Palladium Theater. He’s not a Florida native, but Latimore had his biggest successes on Miami-based labels, and these days he and his family reside in Hillsborough County.

The event is billed as Celebrating Ray Charles!, as an acknowledgement of the late legend’s early song “St. Pete Florida Blues” (hear Charles’ recording here). For the concert’s finale, Latimore is scheduled to croon the tune, backed up by the evening’s opening act, the St. Pete Florida Blues Band.

That group includes Roy Peter Clark, Eric Deggans, Paul Wilborn, Dave Scheiber, J. J. Pattishall and a vocal chorus led by Lillian Dunlap.

Hey, journalists can be musicians too, you know.

Tickets and info here.

Friday night’s Palladium show, La Lucha’s ‘80s Dance Party, was previewed Wednesday in the Catalyst. Read it here.

Curtain down

All things must pass, as somebody once observed, and in today’s case that means the American Stage production of the Tony winner Fun Home is entering its final weekend. The musical about Alison Bechdel’s rocky road to self-discovery, and her memories of life inside a dysfunctional family, rocked St. Pete when it opened July 17, and has been pulling record crowds.

Director Karla Hartley decamped for New York shortly after Fun Home’s first weekend, to direct The Immigrant at Chenango River Theatre.

Hartley, however, fully intends to be in the audience for the final Fun Home performance, Sunday at 2 p.m.

“It was a privilege to work with such a wonderful group of actors,” she enthuses. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group. I also know they will miss it as well. I’m sure they will leave it all on the field in that final performance and there will be tears after.”

Hartley, who’s the producing artistic director of Tampa’s Stageworks Theatre, is returning to direct Wait Until Dark, the next production there (it opens Sept. 27).

Looking back, “This summer I have been blessed to work on two important plays,” Hartley reports, “each with a very important message about inclusion and acceptance.”

Fun Home tickets and info here.

Opera tickets on sale today

Just as the Florida Orchestra did a week ago, St. Petersburg Opera Company is making tickets to individual shows available (up until today, you could only purchase season tickets). The company’s 14th season begins in early October with a production – in English – of Lehar’s The Merry Widow. In the title role will be Kelli Butler, an amazing coloratura soprano from New York, who last appeared with SPO in Die Zauberflöte, playing the formidable Queen of the Night.

Soprano Kelli Butler, aka OperaGeek. Photo provided.

As #OperaGeek, she is an active member of the streaming community, appearing regularly on Twitch playing Dungeons & Dragons, Tabletop RPGs, & streaming videogame playthroughs.

The season’s other major operas are Rigoletto and La Fille du Regiment, and there are other programs at both the Palladium Theater and Opera Central (SPO’s home base) through June of 2020.

Tickets and info here.

Hey, man

For those of us amazed we’re still here 50 years past the original Woodstock festival, Friday’s concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall has significance. It’s called, predictably, Hippiefest, and it’s got a few actual Woodstock performers on the bill. Survivors.

Along with Ten Years After (performing without its late leader, singer/guitarist Alvin Lee) and Henry Gross (who was a member of Woodstock’s “novelty” act, Sha Na Na), Hippiefest includes Big Brother and the Holding Company (the remnants of Janis Joplin’s old band, with which she did not perform at Woodstock) and Vanilla Fudge.

Three out of four original members, these days, is pretty good for a ‘60s rock band. Bassist Tim Bogert is retired, but Vanilla Fudge still includes powerhouse singer and organist Mark Stein, legendary drummer Carmine Appice, and killer guitarist Vince Martell. The bass player is Pete Bremy.

Vanilla Fudge didn’t play Woodstock, either, but the band is still a formidable live act (this writer saw them at the Palladium in 2017).

Henry Gross is also remembered for his 1976 solo his “Shannon,” one of the few dead-dog songs in history to make the Top 40.

So Hippiefest is what it is.

Tickets and info here.

And one more thing

KINK – An Art Affair is a celebration of alternative sexual desires and practices, sponsored by METRO Saturday at its Inclusive Health and Community Center, featuring a silent auction of art from local creators, interactive fetish installations, burlesque and erotic performances, body painting, a live model gallery and all kinds of scintillating stuff. “Erotic by nature and provocative by experience,” says METRO. We’ll have a full story on the event Friday in the Catalyst; for tickets and info, go here.

  • Are you a performing arts space, large, small or in-between, an art gallery, a bookshop or any place where public cultural events take place? Please put us on your email list – we can’t publicize you if we don’t know what (or who) you are! The address is bill@stpetecatalyst.com. Thanks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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