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Your weekend arts forecast: The wonderful Wizard of Bjork

Bill DeYoung



This creepy mashup image provided by the Florida Bjorkestra.

Friday’s show at the Palladium Theater/Side Door, “The Florida Bjorkestra Goes Over the Rainbow,” is a program of multi-hued songs from The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, performed with the core band – including, of course, Bjorkestra founder and head of all things musical Jeremy Douglass on piano – and a handful of singers.

However, Douglass explains, there’s change in the air, if you know where to look. “I just love the hierarchical collaborative structure of regional theater companies, and I see us moving in that direction more in the near future. We do concerts, but there’s a theatrical element to most of them.”

Violinist Rebecca Zapen, who happens to be Mrs. Douglass, too, will be singing Dorothy in the Oz numbers, Chelsea Hooker will assay the candy man, Willy Wonka, and Mary Poppins will be portrayed by Matthew McGee.

“I’m experimenting a lot with mixing my theater friends in with my music friends,” says Douglass. “I like the results. This Oz show is kinda perfectly placed right there in the middle. It’s part theatrical cabaret, part straight ahead jazz, all fun.”

The gang is rounded out by Bjorkestra all-stars Jamie Perlow, Colleen Cherry, Spencer Meyers, James Suggs and Daniel Navarro.

Douglass is looking forward to this particular show a whole lot. “I’ve got a male Mary Poppins, a female Willy Wonka, a male Glinda and a female Bert,” he enthuses. “Sexy Oompa Loompas doing a tango. Kids from American Stage’s summer camp coming in for a song.”

Here’s another thing. “I don’t get many opportunities to showcase the piano in Bjorkestra shows, it being such a massive ensemble,” Douglass explains. “I don’t want to be greedy. Friends in the band keep telling me I should feature the piano more, so I took their advice and gave most of them the night off, and I’ll do all the heavy lifting for these tunes.”

Art at Jannus

The Public Art Project is a beneficiary of proceeds from That ART Festival, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at Jannus Live. It’s free, all ages, family- and pet-friendly, with a DJ (Don Pablo), raffles for artwork, a live interactive piece on which artists and visitors can collaborate, and a creative area for kids, with a free face painter (Tiffany David).

More than 40 area artists and art vendors will be there, including Melanie Posner (you might have read about her in the Catalyst Tuesday), Derek Donnelly, Michael Vahl, Rebecca Flores, Frankie Gonzales, Melody Webster, Dana Harrison, John Gascot, Alyse Renfroe, Lorrin Wagner and, well, a lot. Tim Ritter will create chalk art on the spot.

Mural season

Year Five of St. Pete’s fabulous SHINE Mural Festival begins Oct. 18, and the sponsoring Arts Alliance is announcing the lineup at a fundraising event Friday (7-10 p.m.) at the Station House. Local businesses have donated some pretty cool stuff for the evening’s raffle, Trippy Squad is doing the DJ thing, and your admission includes a free beer from Green Bench (21 and over, please) plus the satisfaction of knowing you’ve donated to one of the area’s most worthy cultural causes. All ticket info is here.

And now, this

Tonight in the Arts Xchange’s Tully-Levine Gallery: Catch up on the progress of RISE St. Pete, a planned 9-11 memorial in the Warehouse Arts District (its centerpiece is a charred hunk of steel recovered from Gound Zero; here’s our original story). The speaker is Scott Neil, one of the Green Berets who made the first approach into Afghanistan, on horseback, after the horrific events of 2001. Neil, who’s also one of the ex-military owners of Horse Soldier Bourbon, will talk about his group’s experiences – that’s why tonight’s event (6-8 p.m.) is titled Whiskey & War Stories. It’s free; your RSVP is requested here.

Harvest, Friday at 7 p.m. at thestudio@620, brings together a dozen poets from the monthly Keep St. Pete Lit poetry open mic events. The artists – each of whom will address the upcoming autumnal season in different ways – include Melissa Brundridge, Bob Devin Jones, Sara Reis, Denzel J.G., Selena Ferrer, Pedro el Poeta and more. Participating musicians:  Thaddeus Reis Dziekonski, trumpet; Eva Maragouthakis, piano; Johnny Cloud, flute; Ti-Jen, violin; and the jazz/blues band Indagroove. Details 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 Thanks



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