Saturday, January 30, 2010

2010-2011 Bank of America Best of Broadway Tampa Bay series

Leap into the fun, action, savings, benefits, memories, options, passion and excitement of Broadway at the Straz!

It will be a dream season in 2010-2011 at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center). Filled with Tony® Award-winners, audience favorites, stunning classics and amazing spectacle, the Straz Center’s 2010-2011 Bank of America Best of Broadway Tampa Bay season is full of fun, passion and excitement.

Shows scheduled on the Broadway series include Billy Elliot, the 2009 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical; Hair, the 2009 Tony Award-winner for Best Musical Revival; the Tony Award-winning revival of West Side Story; the holiday spectacle of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and the family favorites Shrek the Musical and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. The series also will include 9 to 5: The Musical, the Apollo Theater revival of Dreamgirls, a production of Forbidden Broadway, produced by the Straz Center, and the eagerly anticipated return of Jersey Boys.

“Our Broadway season is once again filled with the top-notch shows that our devoted audiences have come to expect and enjoy,” said Judith Lisi, president and CEO of the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. “This entertaining and rewarding series has something for everyone. We’re particularly thrilled to be the first venue in Florida to host the Tony Award-winning Best Musical Billy Elliot with music by Elton John.”

The series is presented in the Straz Center’s acoustically perfect Carol Morsani Hall, the largest on the west coast of Florida, with more than 2,600 seats. Forbidden Broadway will run in the intimate 280-seat cabaret-style Jaeb Theater.

The 2010-2011 Bank of America Best of Broadway Tampa Bay season features:

9 to 5: The Musical

Oct. 19 – 24, 2010

9 to 5: The Musical is a hilarious story of friendship and revenge in the Rolodex era. This new musical comedy, direct from Broadway, is based on the hit movie and features Dolly Parton's original hit title song along with her new Tony Award- and Grammy®-nominated score. The book is by Patricia Resnick (co-writer of the original screenplay) .

9 to 5: The Musical
tells the story of three unlikely friends who conspire to take control of their company and learn there’s nothing they can’t do – even in a man’s world. Outrageous, thought-provoking and even a little romantic, 9 to 5: The Musical is about teaming up and taking care of business ... it’s about getting credit and getting even.

Forbidden Broadway

Oct. 26, 2010-Feb. 27, 2011

Forbidden Broadway is a cabaret revue sharply spoofing show tunes, characters and plots of contemporary and current Broadway musicals. Created and written by Gerard Alessandrini and directed by Alessandrini and long-time collaborator Phillip George, the original version of the revue opened on Jan. 15, 1982, at Palsson’s Supper Club in New York City and ran for 2,332 performances. It has been rewritten several times to include parodies of newer shows and has taken on many different incarnations including Forbidden Broadway Goes to Rehab, Forbidden Hollywood and Forbidden Broadway: Special Victims Unit. Forbidden Broadway has mocked popular shows like The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked and Les Misérables and notable Broadway personalities including Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Elton John, Bernadette Peters, Patti LuPone, Mary Martin, Idina Menzel, Ethel Merman, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Forbidden Broadway will play in the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theater.


Nov. 16 – 21, 2010

Catch the dream! Direct from Harlem’s world famous Apollo Theater in New York City, a sensational new stage production of Dreamgirls comes to the Straz Center featuring American Idol finalist and Sarasota native Syesha Mercado as Deena Jones. Full of onstage joy and backstage drama, Dreamgirls tells the story of an up-and-coming, 1960s singing girl group, and the triumphs and tribulations that come with fame and fortune. With music by Academy® Award nominee Henry Krieger and book and lyrics by Tony and Grammy Award-winner Tom Eyen, Dreamgirls features the unforgettable hits “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” “One Night Only” and “Listen.” Broadway director and choreographer Robert Longbottom (Bye Bye Birdie Broadway revival) and co-choreographer Shane Sparks (television’s So You Think You Can Dance), along with some of Broadway’s top designers, re-envision this Tony- and Academy Award-winning musical so it sparkles like never before!

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas

Nov. 30-Dec. 5, 2010

Get ready to discover a delightful new show that’s as fresh and rare as newly fallen snow! The classic holiday tradition White Christmas comes to the stage at last, as a brand new Irving Berlin musical direct from Broadway. Brimming with such Berlin hits as “Blue Skies,” “How Deep Is the Ocean?” and, of course, the unforgettable title song, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas tells the story of two showbiz buddies putting on a show in a magical Vermont inn and finding their perfect mates in the bargain. Full of dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas promises to be a merry and bright theatrical experience for the whole family!

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Jan. 18-23, 2011

“Tale as old as time, true as it can be.” Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the smash hit Broadway musical, is coming back to Tampa. Based on the Academy Award-winning animated feature film, this eye-popping spectacle has won the hearts of more than 35 million people worldwide. This classic musical love story is filled with unforgettable characters, lavish sets and costumes, and dazzling production numbers including “Be Our Guest” and the beloved title song. Experience the romance and enchantment of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at the Straz Center! Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed into his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

Billy Elliot the Musical

Feb. 2-18, 2011

Tampa is about to be electrified by Broadway’s “best musical of the decade” (Time Magazine). Thrilling audiences worldwide and winning 10 Tony Awards in 2009, including Best Musical, “the best show you will ever see” (New York Post) is coming to the Straz Center’s Carol Morsani Hall. Billy Elliot the Musical is a joyous celebration of one young boy’s triumph against the odds. Called “the most inspiring show I’ve seen in years” by Ben Brantley of The New York Times, the story follows Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring into a ballet class and discovers his dream to dance. Billy Elliot is brought to life by the Tony-winning creative team — director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling and writer Lee Hall — along with music legend Elton John, who has written what the New York Post calls “his best score yet!.” Billy Elliot will enchant the dreamer in all of us. Contains adult language.

West Side Story

March 1-6, 2011

More than 50 years ago one musical changed theater forever. Now it’s back on Broadway mesmerizing audiences once again. From the first note of Leonard Bernstein’s score to the final breath, West Side Story soars as the greatest love story of all time. Directed by Tony Award-winner Arthur Laurents, West Side Story remains as powerful, poignant and timely as ever, transferring Romeo and Juliet to the streets of New York. “So exciting it makes you ache with pleasure.” – John Lahr, The New Yorker

Jersey Boys

March 23-April 17, 2011

Jersey Boys, the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, makes its triumphant return to Tampa. Directed by two-time Tony Award-winner Des McAnuff, Jersey Boys won four 2006 Tony Awards including Best Musical and continues to set new weekly box office records at the August Wilson Theatre, where it has remained among the five top-grossing shows in New York since it opened.

Jersey Boys is written by Academy® Award winner Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo. Intended for mature audiences. Contains authentic Jersey language.

Shrek the Musical

May 3-8, 2011

Based on the popular Dreamworks film, Shrek the Musical tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim the deed to his land. Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, this unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that real friendship and true love aren’t only found in fairy tales. You’ll be a believer after seeing this fun-filled fantasy. Songs include “Make a Move” and “Big Bright Beautiful World.”


May 24-29, 2011

Winner! Best Musical Revival 2009 Tony Award! The Public Theater’s new Tony-winning production of Hair is the most electric celebration on Broadway! This exuberant musical about a group of young Americans searching for peace and love in a turbulent time has struck a resonant chord with audiences young and old. Hair features an extraordinary cast and dozens of unforgettable songs, including “Aquarius,” “Let the Sun Shine In,” “Good Morning, Starshine” and “Easy To Be Hard.” Its relevance is undeniable. Its energy is unbridled. Its truth is unwavering. It's Hair, and it's time. “If this explosive production doesn’t stir something in you, it may be time to check your pulse.” (Variety) Intended for mature audiences: While many find this show suitable for young adults (13 and older), parental discretion is advised. There is a dimly lit 20-second scene with nudity that is non-sexual in nature.

The 2010–2011 Bank of America Best of Broadway Tampa Bay series is presented by the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Those interested in purchasing season tickets should call the Straz Center Ticket Office at 813.229.STAR (7827) or outside the Tampa Bay area at 800.955.1045 or visit for more information. Prices begin at just $196.88 for the full 10-show season package in the Cloud Club. Current season ticket holders will receive renewal information the first week of March and those renewals will be handled before new subscriptions are processed. Straz Center members are given first priority for new season tickets. Group tickets and individual show tickets will go on sale at later dates to be announced.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


You've been asking and here it is the official announcement and rules of the Wicked Lottery:

A day-of-performance lottery for $25 seats will be held daily for WICKED, which will be on stage Feb. 3-28 at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts (formerly Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center).

People who are interested in WICKED lottery tickets can enter their name into the lottery drum at the WICKED table by the Straz Center Ticket Office beginning 2.5 hours before show time. No entries will be accepted before that time.

Entries will be accepted until two hours before the show, when names will be drawn for a limited number of seats in varying locations at $25 each, cash only.

This lottery is available only in-person at the Straz Center Ticket Office.
One entry per person. Two-ticket limit per entry. Must be present for entry and drawing to win.

Must present photo ID at ticket office window to purchase.

There you go! Good luck!

-Kari G.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Renee Fleming is a goddess. Bottom line.

Seriously. Have you listened to Renee Fleming? The President of the United States has her on his iPod. She's sung with the Muppets. She packs the Met and everywhere else she performs.

And tonight "The People's Diva" (so named because she's just as real and nice as she is supernaturally talented) performs for Opera Tampa. Accompanied by a 71-piece orchestra and Maestro Anton Coppola conducting.

You must be here tonight. You can't miss this. Just listen:

I mean come on. That's an angel singing people! Tickets are still available and student/military/senior rush does apply.

-Kari G.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's a Jolly Holiday with Dick Van Dyke!!!!

Dick Van Dyke delighted theatergoers when he made a surprise cameo in the Los Angeles engagement of the MARY POPPINS North American Tour.

Van Dyke, 84, reprised his smaller film role, that of the crotchety bank president Mr. Dawes, in front of an ecstatic, sold out house at the Ahmanson Theater. Van Dyke volunteered to return to the smash hit Disney-Cameron Mackintosh stage musical after attending the opening night back in November. The role of Dawes from the iconic 1964 Disney film was not included in the stage production, but was written into a pivotal Act 2 scene for Van Dyke.

“Entertainment Tonight” will be airing coverage of this during their Tuesday broadcast.

Tune in Tampa viewers to WFLA at 7 p.m. for this awesome story and don't forget that Wicked isn't the only thing to fly into Tampa - MARY POPPINS will be coming in on a stiff headwind May 20 - June 6!

- Kari G.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sinbad - see him before he gets FIRED!

I remember watching Sinbad on A Different World. He's done a lot since then, from having his own show on Fox, to hosting It's Showtime at the Apollo, to being in hilarious films like Necessary Roughness and Houseguest.

Now he's about to go before The Donald for the next season of Celebrity Apprentice. The show has been filming for a while now and will premiere on March 14.

Maybe we can get some secrets out of Sinbad when he performs tomorrow night at the Straz Center, like, "What is Rod Blagojevich hiding on his forehead with all that hair?"

Tickets are still available to enjoy this funny funny man.

- Kari G.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Wicked Good Time

The time is drawing near, the monkeys are getting closer!

Wicked returns to the Straz Center on Feb. 3 - 28 and we couldn't be more excited! Do you have your tickets yet? If not, Best availability is for weeknights and Sunday evening performances. Purchase your tickets now before they fly away.

Here's a nice little shout out by the Golden Globe winning show Glee in a bit of a "Diva Off."

-Kari G.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Straz Center to donate to the relief efforts in Haiti

As I’m sure you all have seen on the news, Haiti and its people have suffered devastating losses after a 7.0 earthquake hit their tiny country this past week. On behalf of our President Judy Lisi and the entire Straz Center staff we would like to inform you that The Straz Center will do its part to join our colleagues, neighbors and the world to assist the Haitian people in this tragic time.

Through Sunday, Jan. 24, a portion of all Straz Center sales will be donated to the American Red Cross to benefit earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.
Please help us spread the word.

If you would like to donate directly please click here and select “Haiti Relief and Development.”

-Kari G.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Jobsite Theater's What the Butler Saw - on stage now!

Jobsite Theater is the theater company in residence in the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center. What the Butler Saw is the second offering in their 2009-2010 season and it's doing great! Here's an update from Jobsite's Artistic Director, David Jenkins:

We've had 5 sold-out shows and two sensational reviews so far, not to mention scads of great feedback from patrons for What the Butler Saw. Head over to our media page to check it all out for yourself, then grab a ticket to one of this weekend's shows! We're on stage now through Jan. 29!

Jobsite Theater has strong attendance on Friday and Saturday nights, so advance ticket purchase is recommended. You can purchase tickets through the Straz Center ticket office, by calling 813.229.STAR, visiting or visiting the ticket window.

If you're looking for a bargain, Thursday night and Sunday matinee performances of Jobsite Theater productions are usually great times to take advantage of their student/military/senior rush. $10 tickets as of 30 minutes w/ cash and valid ID, window only.

Of course rush is always subject to availability but it's a great bargain for a show Creative Loafing called, "One of the funniest performances I’ve seen in years... I can heartily recommend it to lovers of intelligent lunacy – and of laughter."

Here's their promotional video:

(Full disclosure: I'm a board member of Jobsite Theater as well as a Straz Center employee).

-Kari G.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Prepare for the movie on the lawn! Godspell.

The weather is slowly but surely resembling Florida again. While we still recommend you bring a blanket or snuggie, we think that Friday night will be a wonderful night to come down to the Riverwalk and enjoy Godspell.

This is the rocking, groovy 1973 version. When Straz Center presents Godspell Feb. 9 - May 16 you will see a modernized interpretation of the show.

Wear your tie-dyed sweatshirts on Friday night, put a bandanna on your dog, a peace sign on your baby's cheek and enjoy a beautiful evening under the stars. It's all free and all part of enjoying your Straz Center.

-Kari G.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Complexions $10 off!

Why do you want to see Complexions Contemporary Ballet's performance of Love, Sweat and Tears? Uh, maybe because they have rocked So You Think You Can Dance? several times and because this show is so HAWT that it will thaw you out in all the right places.

Think I'm kidding? Check out this clip from SYTYCD and decide for yourself.

You can receive $10 off tickets with the promo code DANCE. All fine print applies.

Quantities are limited. LIMIT — up to four tickets, unless otherwise noted. All sales are final. No refunds. A service charge may apply to non-members. All patrons, regardless of age, must have a ticket. Performers, performances, dates, prices and times are subject to change.

Monday, January 11, 2010

South Pacific - it's warm there.

Did you ever think you would be longing for the South Pacific in Florida? Our weather is just as good - until this week.

So you know what you need? Sailors, RNs in bikini's and Some Enchanted Evening. We will warm you up with the story you've loved forever. SOUTH PACIFIC comes to the Straz Center Jan. 12 - 17.

Does your New Year's Resolution include getting rid of that worthless man in your life? Well if you decide that, I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, please blow dry afterward. Running around or going to bed with a wet head in this weather is just asking for the flu.

(I just channeled my grandmother there).

Okay - fun trivia time -

1. Three of the following musicals were written by Rodgers & Hammerstein; one was not. Identify the show that was written by another composing team:
A. South Pacific
B. Oklahoma!
C. The Sound of Music
D. Cabaret

2. The original Broadway production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s SOUTH
PACIFIC won three of the following awards. Identify the award that the
production did NOT win:
A. Pulitzer Prize
B. Grammy Award
C. Tony Award
D. New York Drama Critics Circle Award

3. The lead character of Nellie Forbush in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC sings three of the following songs. Identify the song that she does NOT sing:
A. “A Cockeyed Optimist”
B. “A Wonderful Guy”
C. “Honey Bun”
D. “Happy Talk”

4. The lead character of Emile De Becque in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC has two children. What are their names?
A. Curly and Laurie
B. Rodgers and Hammerstein
C. Ngana and Jerome
D. Lucy and Ricky

5. The character of Lt. Joe Cable in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC falls in love with the daughter of Bloody Mary. What is her daughter’s name?
A. Liat
B. Little Bloody Mary
C. Mai Tai
D. Hildegard

How did you do?

(Answers are at the bottom of the post)

Tidbit: Robert Russell Bennett, who wrote the original orchestrations for Rodgers & Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC, was awarded a special 2008 Tony Award® for lifetime achievement. His original orchestrations are used in the new Lincoln Center Theater production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s SOUTH PACIFIC.

- Kari G.

Answers: 1-D; 2-B; 3-D; 4-C; 5-A

Passing Strange on PBS - DVR ALERT!

Spike Lee’s documentary film version of Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Passing Strange will premiere on Great Performances Wednesday, January 13th at 9:00 pm (EST). The documentary captures the Broadway production in its final two performances at the Belasco Theatre in July 2008.

Local Tampa/St. Pete readers, it will be broadcast on WEDU.

- Kari G.

A Prairie Home Companion opera episode!

There I was driving around Tampa getting my weekend errands done and staring unbelievably at my car display reading 34 degrees. I flipped on my radio to listen to Prairie Home Companion on WUSF and remind myself that Florida is still warmer than Minnesota.

They were broadcasting from the The War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco! Home of the fabulous San Francisco Opera! With performances by celebrated Metropolitan Opera tenor Raúl Melo and a great Opera Breakdown by Andy Stein and The Guy's All-Star Shoe Band. This is a great podcast to grab here.

It's not just Opera Tampa fans who should listen, Club Jaeb fans will appreciate performances by Sara Watkins and rushing to get her new album available on iTunes.

Hope you have your Kim Richey tickets for tonight's Club Jaeb, because she is SOLD OUT!

There are still some great seats remaining for Renée Fleming on Jan. 26. This Opera Tampa concert is a very special event. Ms. Fleming will be performing with a full orchestra conducted by Maestro Anton Coppola!

-Kari G.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

An Evening with Lucille Ball "Thank You For Asking!"

Directed by Lucie Arnaz, this touching, funny and uplifting one-woman play is created and performed by Suzanne LaRusch and written by LaRusch and Arnaz. Lucy guides us through the lifetime of personal memories inspiring her timeless sketches on I Love Lucy, her 30-year television career and never-before heard personal recollections about her tempestuous and complicated marriage to Cuban bandleader turned impresario, Desi Arnaz. Crafted in the spirit of the amusing lectures Lucy enjoyed giving throughout her career, the evening recreates the comic genius and the magic behind the “Queen of Comedy.” It’s an evening with the REAL Lucy, as you’ve never seen her before.Join us for special talkbacks with Lucie Arnaz following the performances on Jan. 14, 15 and 16.

Click here for special $10 tickets for upcoming performances!