Friday, December 29, 2006

Last performance for James Brown

I never got to see James Brown live (definitely my bad), but I very early on purchased his "Live at the Apollo" album -- yes, album -- recorded in 1962.

I also saw the 1964 T.A.M.I. movie, which -- as I recall -- showed a very frightened Mick Jagger backstage, worried about trying to follow Brown's kinetic act. Although it might just have easily been The Animals who were concerned. I'll have to watch again. By the way, the initials stood for Teenage Awards Music International, which I didn't know until I just looked it up, but it still doesn't make much sense.

In the 1960s, my Maryland high school was pretty evenly split between the "soul" and the "hippie" music factions. Both sides had merit, but the ones in the soul camp had a much easier time dancing.

For good or ill, Brown influenced Jagger, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen (who lovingly stole JB's show closer), Prince and Paul McCartney (just kidding on Sir Paul).

He had a lot of personal problems with substances and the law, but his music still stands.

And now Brown's last performance was to lie "in state" at that same Apollo theater in Harlem. What a way to go. -- MichaelK/TBPAC

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Amy Speace, Red Molly double up

I caught Amy Speace at a little club in Nashville during the September Americana Music Association conference and she was absolutely one of the highlights.

I knew she was based in New York, but imagine my surprise when I noted a listing for Speace and her band at the catchily named Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction on Avenue A in NYC on a rare free night.

(With a name like that, you might expect a massage during the show, but I digress.)

There are a couple of performance spaces in Mo's, and Amy cranked up in an upstairs room around 9:30. I got to hear some of the great songs I had liked from her CD, "Songs for Bright Street."

At one point, she was joined on some harmony by two singers from Red Molly. I had arrived too late to catch their opening set, and hadn't heard of them before. But I bought a CD, which now has a prime position on my CD player.

I also signed up for their mailing list and you can hear the rest from them directly. -- MichaelK/TBPAC

Hi everybody:
2006 has been an amazing year for Red Molly! We released our first
full-length album, we broke into the top 30 on the Radio & Records
Americana Chart, we won the Emerging Artist Showcase at the Falcon
Ridge Folk Festival (which is where we formed the band two years

Also, we were featured in Bicycling Magazine's Annual Buyer's
Guide, we got our butts into the Naked Folk Calendar, and we met all
of you nice folks, too! We couldn't be happier. THANK YOU so much
for your support all year. It means the world to us.

1. TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2006
We are psyched that "Never Been to Vegas" has been selected as one of
the top 10 albums of 2006 on the Online Folk Festival. We're in very
good company, including Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan! Check out
the whole list here:

Red Molly is starting off 2007 with a bang. We've got shows at the
Howland Cultural Center (Beacon, NY), the Warwick Valley Winery
(Warwick, NY - indoors and cozy), Rosie's Cafe House Concert (Brick,
NJ), the Parkside Lounge (our NYC home), the Golden Apple (Mt. Kisco,
NY), and the New Legacy Concert Series (Ringwood, NJ). Rock on,

See you soon,
Laurie, Abbie and Carolann
Red Molly
Fan website:

The Magic Flute

I’ve posted about the Metropolitan Opera simulcasting their season before and I just got off the phone with Diane at Citrus Park Stadium 20 and you should know there are 247 tickets sold for The Magic Flute on Sat. Dec. 30th. Diane tells me there are only 35 seats left – so if you want to go – HURRY! You can get tickets by calling Citrus Park Stadium 20 at 813.920.9471.

This is going to be super cool!

-Kari G.

TBPAC's Shimberg Playhouse tops in Tampa says CreLo!

Creative Loafing publishes an annual list of Top 10 area theater productions, which is reserved for local productions from professional theater companies (as opposed to the many touring Broadway shows that also come to town).

TBPAC is typically well-represented in this annual list, and this year we're proud to report that all of the top 3 plays came straight from our own Shimberg Playhouse:

1. The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?

Edward Albee's scandalous play is about a world-famous architect who falls in love with a goat, has sex with her and then faces the rage and bafflement of his wife and son. As brilliantly acted by Steven Clark Pachosa in a Jobsite Theater production, protagonist Martin Gray was truly in love; and as he challenged all our assumptions about what is permissible, he made playwright Albee's real theme -- the question, is there an infallible source of our moral law? -- painfully clear. Monica Merryman was terrific as Martin's wife, and Eric Burgess as his gay son was desperately in need of a father he could respect. Director Karla Hartley treated this uniquely passionate and philosophical play with all possible seriousness, and the result was stunning.

2. Frozen

The deliberate murder of a child is among the most horrific of all crimes. But author Bryony Lavery, in her riveting play Frozen, asks us whether a man who himself has been abused and damaged since early childhood can be forgiven for such an atrocity. Lavery shows us the twisted, hateful perpetrator -- played brilliantly by Richard Coppinger -- and also the dead child's stricken mother -- played with heart-rending realism by Monica Merryman. Then she asks us to judge. As directed by Stageworks' Anna Brennen, Frozen was chilling and sad and relentlessly original.

3. The Pillowman

A writer, Katurian, is hauled into a police station in an unnamed totalitarian state. As two cops alternately manhandle and interrogate him, he learns that someone has been carrying out the details of his most violent tales. Is it he himself, or perhaps his mentally challenged brother? Is Katurian culpable for imagining such violence, and is there anything in the world besides story, story and story? Jobsite Theater brought us Martin McDonagh's amazing play in a formidable production, with splendid acting by Steve Garland as Katurian and Paul Potenza as his pitiful, unpredictable brother. The experience was fascinating -- and harrowing.

Another round of applause for these great shows - and also for those who took the time to come and support them, helping ensure that theater stays alive and well in Tampa and at TBPAC. Jobsite Theater, the resident theater company in the Shimberg (and yes, my baby) is gearing up for their production of All the Great Books (abridged), which opens Jan. 12.

It's no secret that the Shimberg is my favorite room on the TBPAC campus. An intimate space that seats up to 130, this black box space ensures you're close enough to see every facial expression and always be engaged by the action. We're hearing more and more from subscribers from our more popular Broadway and Opera series that they absolutely love the variety and quality of the productions. If you haven't seen a show in there before - or if you haven't visited us in a few years - we'd love for you to give us a look.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Last minute holiday ideas

We have a philosophical commitment to not make this blog too sales oriented (as opposed to the blog for Jobsite that I run - I'm shameless over there), but I'd really be remiss if I didn't throw out some things that would make swank gifts. I don't feel so bad about it because I'm constantly hearing stuff like "Oh my god - so-and-so is coming?? Don't you guys advertise? What? It's sold out? How's that possible?"

So here you go, lazy shoppers, a list of shows guaranteed to make that special person swoon. Shows with tickets still available (at the time of the writing of this post anyway).

Not sure what someone may like? Hook them up with a gift certificate and they can make up their own mind.

Opera Diva Deborah Voigt - Jan. 5
State Ballet Theater of Russia's Cinderella - Jan. 6
All the Great Books (abridged) - Jan. 12 - Feb. 4
The Ant and the Grasshopper - Jan. 13
Paula Poundstone - Jan. 19
Jon Stewart - Jan. 20
Monty Python's Spamalot - Jan. 23 - Feb. 4
This is How it Goes - Jan. 25 - Feb. 11
Marc Salem's Mind Games - Jan. 25 - 28
LeRoy Bell - Jan. 29
MOMIX - Feb. 1
Tango Pasion - Feb. 4

-- David J/TBPAC

Getting into character

One of the NY cast members of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee decided to hit the streets of NY in character as "Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre." Check out these You Tube videos as she works a corner hot dog stand … in character:
Want to learn more about "Logainne," check out her My Space page.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Broadway, meet Hollywood

As the saying goes, "If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere." That continues to hold true not just for people but for shows. As of recent years, both Rent and The Producers have found their way to Hollywood and now another NYC success is headed West.

According to, the Pulitzer Prize and Tony-Award winning Doubt will start shooting the movie version in late 2007 and should be in the theaters by 2008. It will be written and directed by the show's original playwright, John Patrick Shanley. Though the play has a cast of four the movie promises to have more characters. Casting hasn't been announced yet.

Also in recent Tony-Award winning Broadway actor goes Hollywood is Dan Fogler (AKA "William Barfee" from the NY cast of Spelling Bee). Though working in small films for quite a few years, most recently he can be seen as "Zack" in School for Scoundrels. He's currently filming several new films including Horton Hears a Who and Kung Fu Panda due out in 2008 and just wrapped several more due out in 2007.

- Angela L.

"The next time you see me coming, you better run ..."*

Now I know how an undertaker feels. Nobody's real happy to see you.

I've been going to New York to see Broadway since the early '90s, but I've never been on a streak like this.

Two shows that I saw in the last two months announced closings immediately afterward.

High Fidelity, based on the Nick Hornby book and resulting movie (but with original music), is closing Sunday after only 14 performances and 18 previews. It purported to tell the story of Rob and his record store buddies, their loves and losses (mostly losses) but to their own soundtrack. The success of Rent notwithstanding, apparently Broadway's not quite ready for this. Or, at least the main New York Times critic isn't. Ben Brantley pretty much hated it, calling it one of his top five most forgettable Broadway musicals, and he couldn't remember the other four. Ha.

But that wasn't as bad as his slam of The Times They Are a Changin', the unlikely pairing of Twyla Tharp's circus choreography, Bob Dylan's music and lyrics and a fever-dream of a plot. "Ms. Tharp," Brantley wrote, "is one of the bona fide, boundary-stretching geniuses of modern dance. And when a genius goes down in flames, everybody feels the burn." The show closed on Nov. 19, after opening on Oct. 26. That's 35 previews and only 28 performances.

I now have two souvenir Playbills.

As the most important critic on the most important newspaper in the theater world, Brantley has the power to close shows in a single bound, um, review. It's a huge responsibility.

The critic will say he's doing you a favor, that he suffers so you don't have to. His responsibility is to his readers, not the theater company, actors, musicians, etc.

That's all true. Especially, apparently, the suffering part.

I have to say that, as a Dylan fan, I liked more parts of Times than I didn't. The ringmaster/MC reminded me of more sinister -- or more obvious -- Engineer from Miss Saigon. And they didn't tart up the vocals too much. I was afraid it would sound like Up With People Sing Dylan! I liked the dancing more in Twarp's previous hit Movin' Out, but that's also the best dancing I've seen in stage in years so perhaps that's unfair comparison.

For any of its faults, High Fidelity had wit and heart and some subtleties perhaps lost on a big stage, but I laughed at tiny bits in homage to Talking Heads and Devo. And Jay Klaitz is the new Jack Black who was the new Chris Farley. Klaitz's Barry still brought down the house with his unlikely R&B finale.

I'll be seeing other new shows soon. I hope I'm not bad luck.

Perhaps not. I did see a little show called Wicked on Friday, Oct. 31, 2003 (yep, Halloween, strangely enough) on only its second official performance and it's done pretty OK.

-Michael K.

* Thanks to Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited"

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Lewis Black gives local High Schoolers Q&A session

I just had the opportunity to sit in on a very cool Q & A session. Lewis Black and Joe Grafisi are in town working on a staged reading of a play Black wrote called One Slight Hitch. They’re rehearsing and revising with local actors all week here at the Patel Conservatory, but took some time out this afternoon to chat with about 50 high school theater students from area schools. While the students were all familiar with Black’s acting and comedic work, this gave them the rare opportunity to get to know Lewis Black the playwright.

He detailed his journey and the persistence it takes to get a play produced, telling the story of a play he worked on in a New York theater where he wouldn’t even be willing to live if he had been offered free rent. But that was just part of the journey. He and Grafisi also talked about One Slight Hitch and how they have worked together to get the piece to the reading stage it’s in today. His advice to the students? Figure out what it is that you want to do and go for it. Don’t let anyone prevent you from doing so, because it’s your life, not theirs.

Black and Grafisi will follow up each of the staged readings this weekend with post show discussions so the audience can also have an opportunity to learn about the process and contribute their own thoughts.

- Tara M.

Tis the season for giving!

TBPAC and Hairspray are teaming up with Metropolitan Ministries to make the holidays a little brighter for Tampa Bay families. Now through Sunday, bring any unwrapped gift to the TBPAC Ticket Office and receive $20 off tickets to Hairspray (excluding Friday and Saturday evening and price levels 4 & 5). Donations benefit Metropolitan Ministries.

In total, 14,000 Tampa Bay area families (including as many as 21,000 children) receive services from Metropolitan Ministries during the holiday - 7,000 of these families during the 10 days leading up to Christmas. At their Holiday Center, families are provided with a Box of Hope (a traditional holiday meal with a turkey and all the trimmings, along with enough food for several days) as well as health check-ups and toys for children.

Already have your Hairspray tickets but would still like to make a donation? No problem. Just drop your unwrapped gift by the TBPAC Ticket Office and we’ll happily include it in the donation!

- Angela L.

Record breaking Broadway

As of Dec. 10 the five time Tony-Award winner The Drowsy Chaperone broke the Marquis Theatre house record reporting grossing sales of $1.07 million for the week. This put the show at #6 on the Top 10 Grossing Broadway show list for the week as reported by the New York Times. The show was ranked behind Broadway blockbusters like Wicked, The Lion King and Jersey Boys but ahead of other solid Broadway performers like Mamma Mia! (#7) and Spamalot (#8).

- Angela L.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Just Your Basic Opera Update

I haven’t been posting about the opera lately, because I was busy enjoying the opera. Opera Tampa kicked off the 2006-2007 Homes by Helen Opera Series last Friday with Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet. Now that the show has passed, I don’t feel so bad about shamelessly plugging the great reviews by The Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times.

For me personally, I took a date to the opera. He even wore a bow tie and looked a little bit like Daniel Craig after a glass of wine and some squinting. (Squinting to make him look older of course).

It was beautiful, it was romantic, it had swordfights, it had codpieces – it was a great night and you should have been there.

So there.

Okay on to other news in the opera…

This story could be bordering on tedious if it wasn’t getting downright ridiculous. Berlin Opera’s controversial on again/off again production of Mozart’s Indomeneo has kind of - lost its head. More specifically, the prop of Muhammed’s severed head. You know, the item that caused all the problems in the first place? Yep. They can’t find it. Sigh. Updates as they happen.

Famed director Franco Zeffirelli was cheered and showered with roses on the opening night of his new production of Verdi's Aida at La Scala on Thursday night, making his triumphant return after a 14-year absence from the opera house where he first made his mark. Not known for being humble, Zeffirelli claimed it is the best opera La Scala has ever seen. Wow. I’m sure it’s good, but please place this in the same file as John Lennon proclaiming the Beatles to be “More popular than Jesus now.”

Keep it in perspective Frank …

Best press I’ve seen so far on Aida? This BBC slide show – go to slide 7 and witness Donatella Versace make her mark as the best “old produce” La Scala has ever seen.


-Kari G.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Lewis Black, Jon Stewart, Aasif Madvi ....

The list keeps getting longer and longer. So many Tampa connections right now to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. I've already talked about Aasif Mandvi's Tampa connection, and you hopefully all have your Jon Stewart tickets (don't mess around now - I will thump anyone calling me a week before the show asking if I can get them tickets!).

Perhaps one of the coolest connections right now is a 9-day residency coming up with Lewis Black and his cohort Joe Grifasi - who will be in town to put up Lew's play One Slight Hitch as a staged reading here at the Patel Conservatory's TECO Theater Dec. 14-16.

A staged reading is basically kinda what it sounds like. They've cast the show, they'll have a rough approximation of a set, they'll rehearse a minimal amount - but in the end they'll have scripts in their hands. This is going to be an opportunity for Lew to revisit this play - which he originally wrote in the 1980s. He'll be revising a bit while in rehearsals with the actors (he's strictly here as playwright - his colleague and friend Joe Grifasi is directing) and every night during the public staged readings Joe, Lewis and the cast will take part in post-show talk-backs with the audience to answer questions and solicit feedback on the piece. This will likely lend itself to more rewrites from night to night.

It's really an incredible opportunity not only for the local actors to work with a nationally recognized playwright and director, but it's a great opportunity for the public to get some inside access to the creation of a show and a chance to pick his mind on his creation. I had the opportunity a while back to have dinner with Lewis and talk about his life in the theater, and what I'm trying to do here in Tampa.

Did you know: Before becoming a stand-up comedian, Lewis black studied playwrighting at Yale under the legendary David Mamet? Well, now you do!

This is almost an event too cool for Tampa, right? Staged readings with a New York director where the playwright, who's you know - on TV regularly and is probably one of the workingest comedians of his day, is actually in town at the performances gathering feedback and tweaking his creation through the process.

Wowsers. Next thing you know you might actually be able to buy groceries or gas while you're Downtown.

Nah ... now that's just crazy talk ...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Christmas Story

I originally posted a blog this morning about this movie, a NYTimes article and our event this Friday. Within about half an hour, Angela Lakin also sent me an item for the blog basically covering the same material. My original blog is below, with Angela's contributions following:

I've been a giant fan of A Christmas Story since the first time I saw it, and I can't even tell you when that was. The only other movie I think that predates A Christmas Story as the big holiday movie was Star Wars, and well, I'm just of that age.

I was sent this story today about a guy who bought the bought the house from the movie and turned it into a museum of sorts. Seems the whole town now is starting to get in the act - it's a good read.

Also, I'm pretty sure that WTBS still does the 24 hours of A Christmas Story, for those of you who just can't get enough of such nuggets like "You'll shoot your eye out!"

If you really want to get a jump start on your holidays (I guess it's not even really a jump start, but it still feels early to me somehow), you can come by TBPAC on Friday night for our Holiday Madness sale, where we'll be showing A Christmas Story on the riverwalk. Our last even, The Holy Grail, was very well attended. Grab a blanket and come on down!


My brother, Jon, and I have always loved that movie. Not only because it's a great movie, but because it's educational too. Don’t believe me?
  • Life lesson #1: Tongues stick to cold metal
  • Life lesson #2: BB guns are dangerous
  • Life lesson #3: Swearing = Soap
  • Life lesson #4: Chinese restaurants are open on Christmas
  • Life lesson #5: Bullies have feelings too
  • Life lesson #6: Fuzzy animal PJs are NEVER a good gift…NEVER
  • Life lesson #7 (for the guys): Don't help decorate the house with your "major award." Odds are it's tacky and/or offensive.
- Angela L.