Thursday, December 28, 2006

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.


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