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Your weekend arts forecast: Shakespeare and Semele

Bill DeYoung



St. Petersburg Opera Company's "Semele." Photo: Jim Swallow/Packinghouse Gallery.

One of the last things Tampa Repertory Theatre co-founder C. David Frankel was developing before his passing in March 2020 was an ambitious production of Shakespeare’s sprawling King Lear.

A few things, the pandemic among them, kept the realization of Frankel’s dream dormant … until now.

King Lear, produced by Tampa Rep in conjunction with the University of South Florida School of Theatre and Dance, opens Friday at USF Theatre 2 (3829 USF Holly Dr., Tampa).

Michael Mahoney stars in the Tampa Repertory Theatre production of “King Lear.” Photo: Ned Averill-Snell.

Michael Mahoney, Frankel’s original choice to play Lear, leads the cast.

Frankel’s widow, Connie LaMarca-Frankel, is directing, in collaboration with Megan Lamasney.

“Given the pride and divide we’ve all experienced over the last couple years, I’m certain our diverse community of theatre-goers will resonate with the plights of these characters,” producing artistic director Emilia Sargent said.

“The play deals with the shift in authority and power away from an aging ruler, both politically and within family dynamics. The disempowerment and invisibility of an aging population is insidious in our culture. King Lear shines a light on this issue.”

The production is dedicated to Frankel’s memory. “His loss is felt frequently, but the fact that we’re working at USF with so many of the cast members he chose, and with several members of his family, makes us feel that his support surrounds us,” Sargent said.

Ticket link.

Operatically speaking

While we’re on the subject of royalty, Jupiter – known as “King of the Gods” – plays an important role in G.F. Handel’s Semele, onstage at the Palladium this weekend from St. Petersburg Opera Company.

In the story, the mortal Semele becomes one of Jupiter’s many mistresses, and this enrages Juno, the king’s wife, who proceeds to ruin the vain, impetuous girl.

Ah, but there are comedic threads woven into the libretto, along with Handel’s exquisite score. The opera is performed in English, and presented will full orchestra conducted, as always, by SPO founder and artistic director Mark Sforzini.

The cast includes Holly Flack as Semele, Kyle Tomlin as Jupiter and Sara Couden as Juno.

Shows are Feb. 4, 6 and 8. Ticket link.

Live onstage

Could this be the most crowded theater weekend of the year? Let’s see … along with the aforementioned King Lear from Tampa Rep, we’ve got School Girls at American Stage, I Love to Eat at freeFall, Romeo & Juliet at Jobsite, Pass Over at thestudio@620, The Diary of Anne Frank at Stageworks, and ThinkTank Theatre for Young Audiences’ new show All the Great Books (Abridged).

“An American in Paris” visits Ruth Eckerd Hall Friday, Photo provided.

A national touring production of Gershwin’s An American in Paris is onstage Friday at Ruth Eckerd Hall, and the national tour of the Tony-sweeping Dear Evan Hanson continues through Sunday at Morsini Hall, in the Straz Center.

Saturday’s Florida Orchestra concert gala, with Josh Groban, is sold out.

Dates to remember at Ruth Eckerd Hall: Jay Leno (here’s our recent interview with him) performs tonight (Feb. 3); Gladys Knight sings Sunday; and stretching the weekend just a little, Alice Cooper is Ruth’s guest Monday.

At the Capital Theatre: Billy Prine plays the songs of his late brother John Prine tonight, pianist Jim Brickman (a regular Cap guest) is back Sunday, and Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (a.k.a. Hot Tuna) have an acoustic show Sunday.

Ticket link for Ruth Eckerd Hall and Capital Theatre.

Art to heart

The February Mize Gallery exhibit, Decades, opens with a virtual reception Friday, and an in-person reception Saturday (6-9 p.m.). Sixty-four artists have contributed work, each inspired by a specific decade.

The Gulfport First Friday Art Walk is 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, along Beach Boulevard and vicinity. It’ll feature fine art from 30 area artists, curated as always by the Gulfport Merchants Chamber.

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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