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Your weekend arts forecast: The Bard in the park, ‘Thanksgiving’ says goodbye

Bill DeYoung



"The Taming of the Shrew" is onstage, for free, at Williams Park nightly through Sunday, Nov. 17. Photo: Carol Gallagher

For theater at its most organic, look no further than Williams Park in downtown St. Pete, where the St. Petersburg Shakespeare Festival and thestudio@620 are in cahoots with an under-the-stars bandshell production of Willie the Shakes’ Elizabethan-era comedy The Taming of the Shrew.

With this sweet, cool weather blowing in, a night of quality Shakespeare outdoors should be very pleasant, indeed. And directors Bob Devin Jones and Veronica Leone Matthews have, between them, many years of good and gripping Shakespearean production experience.

The play’s the thing, somebody once said. And this one, Thursday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m., is free.

And another notch in the organic column: In this production of The Taming of the Shrew, the female characters are played – as they were in Shakespeare’s time – by men.

For more about the directors, and the show, go here.

“The Thanksgiving Play” at Jobsite Theatre. Photo: Pritchard Photography

This is also the final weekend for the uproarious comedy The Thanksgiving Play at Jobsite Theatre in Tampa. Larissa Fasthorse’s four-person satire is about how being “woke” to the true story of Native Americans, and the first Thanksgiving, can get in the way of creating a fun show about pilgrims and turkeys for elementary school kids. It is fast-moving and fierce, a send-up of politically correct, vegan do-gooders and their well-meaning ilk, and the way historical facts tend to get warped, forgotten and/or blown out of proportion as time goes by. Mostly, it’s just funny as hell.

More info and tickets here.

Not just kid stuff

St. Petersburg Opera Company’s annual Family Series presentation, a 55-minute musical adaptation of Pinocchio, has a public performance Saturday at 2 p.m., at the organization’s Opera Central headquarters. Next week, the show will play to 700 bussed-in Pinellas County school kids, with two more shows for the public following on Nov. 22 and 23.

To tell this story, playwright/composer John Davies used music by Mozart, Offenbach and others, and added lyrics about being a good boy, telling the truth and the value of family. The singers are accompanied by a seven-piece orchestra conducted by SPO’s Mark Sforzini.

Playing Pinocchio is mezzo-soprano Taylor-Alexis Dupont, an Orlando resident who’s stopping in St. Pete (her hometown) while on a hiatus from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where she’s in the ensemble of the acclaimed revival of Porgy and Bess (it resumes in January).

For more information, and tickets, click here.

And now, this

Tonight (Thursday, Nov. 14) is the Creative Pinellas Arts Annual, a fundraising gala that brings together 31 artists, both visual and performing, who’ve received grants from the nonprofit support organization. More info and tickets here.

Filmmaker and actor Kevin Smith (Dogma, Clerks, Chasing Amy) is always an engaging, thoughtful (and hilarious) public speaker. He’s at the Tampa Theatre tonight (Nov. 14), along with his frequent co-star Jason Mewes, for a Q&A following a screening of the latest film featuring their dynamic duo alter egos – it’s called Jay and Silent Bob Reboot. The no-kids-allowed fun starts at 7:30. Tickets and details are here.

Two super-fine St. Petersburg singer/actors, Alison Burns and Tron Montgomery, make up half the cast of the winsome musical Ordinary Days, onstage this weekend (Friday through Sunday) at Stageworks Theatre in Tampa. A most worthwhile evening out. Info here.

Violinist Benjamin Beilman, 30, is the Florida Orchestra’s guest soloist for this weekend’s Masterworks concert; he’ll perform Sibelius’ Violin Concerto; the program also includes Vivian Fung’s Fanfare and Symphony No. 1, “Winter Dreams,” by Tchaikovsky. Daniel Black conducts Friday at the Straz Center and Saturday at the Mahaffey (no Ruth Eckerd concert this weekend). Tickets here.

Pinellas County concerts of particular note this weekend: Storm Large, who frequently tours as a vocalist with the great Pink Martini, sings Saturday at Central Park Performing Arts in Largo; Madeira Beach’s venerable Mad Beach Band re-unites for a Saturday show at the Palladium (more on this Friday in the Catalyst); the Mahaffey’s got the good old Doobie Brothers Friday and the annual QYK Guitar Pull acoustic country music show Saturday; iconic country performer Dwight Yoakam plays Ruth Eckerd Friday, followed the next night by comedian/actor Kevin James.

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