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Your weekend arts forecast: New plays, fine art, music and family stuff

Bill DeYoung

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The true story of pioneering female astronomers, "Silent Sky" opens Saturday at American Stage. Photo: Joey Clay.

After the thought-provoking (and surprisingly fun) season opener Vietgone, which put a different spin on the story of refugees fleeing their war-torn homeland after the fall of Saigon, American Stage reaches once again into the inexhaustible barrel of history for Silent Sky, opening Friday (Nov. 22).

Written by Atlanta’s Lauren Gunderson (Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley, American Stage’s 2018 holiday-season production), Silent Sky takes place at Harvard College in the early 20th Century; Henrietta Leavitt is one of a small group of female astronomers employed at the Harvard Observatory. The business of star-gazing, of mapping the cosmos and making profound scientific discoveries, is man’s work (the women, referred to as “computers,” aren’t allowed anywhere near the big observatory telescope).

Although Gunderson’s play is fictionalized to a certain degree, Henrietta Swan Leavitt was a real person, and the eventual discoveries she made – no spoilers here; go and see Silent Sky to find out what they were! – had a profound impact on our understanding of the universe, how it works and where it’s headed.

Tickets and info here.

“The Lion in Winter.” Thee Photo Ninja.

The Lion in Winter, James Golden’s darkly comedic historical drama about medieval England’s King Henry II, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their sons, officially opens Saturday night at freeFall Theatre. There are preview performances Friday night and Saturday afternoon (at this writing, the Friday preview is sold out).

We wrote about director Chris Crawford in a recent story; more on The Lion in Winter Friday in the Catalyst.

 

Such fine fine art

Opening Friday at Venus Gallery is Decanting: The Process of Transference, an exhibition of works by the students of USF Tampa’s REAL WORLD class, in which Professor Jay Giroux teaches undergrads to become entrepreneurs, and begin sustaining their creative careers.

In other words, Giroux – himself a successful artist and designer, as well as an educator – is helping his gaggle of young creatives negotiate that always-tricky space between art and commerce.

The opening reception, from 6 to 10 p.m., will include (at 7:30) a panel discussion with Giroux, students and guests. Find out more about REAL WORLD and Decanting (which will be installed at Venus through Nov. 30) here.

 

The title Midnight in Paris: Surrealism at the Crossroads, 1929 pretty much explains what’s included in the new Dali Museum exhibit, opening Saturday. Here’s Tuesday’s Catalyst story on this stunning collection of works, on loan from France just for this occasion.

 

More than 100 craft artists from around the country will converge downtown for this weekend’s 22nd annual CraftArt Festival. You’ll find this at the intersection of Central Avenue and 5th Street, in front of the sponsoring gallery, Florida CraftArt.

Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. More info here.

 

Good vibes

Jason Marsalis

Vibraphonist Jason Marsalis – he’s the youngest sibling from New Orleans’ masterful musical family – performs Thursday (Nov. 21) at the Palladium Theater’s intimate Side Door, with his quartet The BGQ Exploration – playing sprightly, swinging jazz in the manner of the Benny Goodman Quartet (i.e. BGQ, see?) The group also includes Joe Goldberg on clarinet, pianist Kris Tokarski and drummer Gerald T. Watkins. Tickets and info here.

Marsalis got a ringing endorsement from none other than Peter Asher Wednesday at the Side Door, who began his show (with Albert Lee) by informing the audience he wished he could see the quartet’s performance next night, because he (Asher) is a huge fan – and that Marsalis had recently “jazzed-up” a song of his (“Love Always Comes as a Surprise,” from Madagascar 3).

 

For the family

If you’re looking for something fun to bring the kids to, look no further than Cirque Dreams: Holidaze, making its annual appearance at the Mahaffey Theater tonight (Thursday, Nov. 21). It’s best described as Christmas-themed aerial pageantry, a big, bright blend of Broadway razzle-dazzle and Cirque acrobatics. Tickets are here.

And St. Petersburg Opera Company has two performances (one Friday night, one Saturday afternoon) of its Family Series show, the 55-minute Pinocchio. Featuring a live, seven-piece orchestra and a cast of professional opera singers in costume, Pinocchio is specifically designed as an introduction to opera for children. Call (727) 823-2040 to check on ticket availability.

Sunday afternoon at the Palladium: The Tampa Bay Youth Symphony Holiday Concert. The 3 p.m. performance (in Hough Hall, the main theater) celebrates not only the impending holiday season, but the Youth Symphony’s 62nd anniversary! Tickets here.

  • We can’t stress this enough: If we don’t know about your event, we can’t write anything about it. So please remember to add bill@stpetecatalyst.com to your mailing list today!
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