Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Spoonful of Sugar!

From London to New York to Los Angeles, more than 5 million people around the world have experienced the supercalifragilistic hit Broadway musical that the New York Daily News calls "A roof-raising, toe-tapping, high-flying extravaganza!" - and now you're invited to experience this perfectly magical musical for yourself. Mary Poppins flies into the Straz Center May 20 - June 6 and you can take advantage of this special online offer! Be one of the first to see Mary Poppins in Tampa during its opening weekend, and save $20 on select seats at select performances.

$20 off select seats at select performances with promo code: SOCIAL
Thursday, Friday and Sunday evening, May 20-23, 2010, price levels A, B and C. Offer also includes the Thursday, May 20, 2 p.m. performance in price levels A and B. ALL SALES FINAL. No exchanges or refunds. Tickets subject to applicable service charges. Performance prices, dates, times and cast are subject to change without notice. Single-ticket purchases limited to 8 tickets per person and limited to 4 tickets per person for the discount. Not applicable to prior sales. Cannot be combined with any other offer. Subject to availability. Other restrictions may apply. Offer may be revoked without notice.

And close your mouth Michael, we are not a codfish!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Let the Sun Shine In!

Tune in to watch the entire Broadway cast of HAIR perform “Aquarius” live on “Regis and Kelly” on Tuesday, April 27, with Kelly Ripa joining the number as part of the Tribe! “Regis and Kelly” is nationally syndicated and airs locally in the Tampa Bay region on WTVT Fox 13 at 10:00 AM.
-Kari G.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Congratulations to Next To Normal


The Pulitzer Prize board today bestowed its 2009 drama award to the musical "Next to Normal." The edgy musical, which opened last spring on Broadway at the Booth Theatre, has been a critical and audience hit but was not on the short list of nominations.

Read more here.

-Kari G.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Special Discount for Thespians

Hey Thespians! Show your event badge at the Straz Center Ticket Office to purchase tickets to any GODSPELL performance, April 8-11, for just $8.75! This is a fully updated and modernized production you don't want to miss.

Offer includes service charges. One discounted ticket per badge. Not applicable to prior sales. Subject to availability. Cannot be combined with any other offer.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Florida State Thespian Festival

It’s that time of year again – the Florida State Thespian Festival. For the next 4 days the Straz Center and the Convention Center will be hosting 7200 young artists as they perform, compete, learn and participate in one of the largest theater festivals in the world.

This phenomenon has garnered so much attention that there has even been a movie made about it.

Being here and being a part of the Thespian Festival is something I have written about before. As a former Florida State Thespian, (go Troupe #334 – represent!) I have so many fond memories of this week. I try not to think about how many years have gone by since I hopped off the bus and onto the grounds of the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (as it was called back then) and performed in Festival Hall (now the Morsani Hall) and the Playhouse (now the Ferguson). I remember every show I saw, every class I took, every boy I flirted with just because they were from another school.

I remember being blown away by a production of Noises Off by Bolles High School. I remember falling in love with a production of Eleemosynary (a show I would later perform and direct, twice). I remember taking my first real improvisation workshop (I would later go on to perform for The Second City). And I remember stealing a kiss by the river with a boy whose name has drifted away.

It was always the best week of high school.

When you’re growing up, it’s so important to “fit in” and be accepted by your peers. I think I can speak to many of us in the arts that growing up, we never felt like we “fit in” anywhere. We were easy to spot in high school: We walked in small packs through the hallways hoping for safety in numbers. We ate in the corner of the cafeteria, if we ate in the cafeteria at all. Our hair changed colors, our clothes had copious numbers of safety pins, and our conversations were peppered with Monty Python references and snippets of songs. We represented the Island of Misfit Toys.

But once a year, we got to run away to Tampa. For those of us from small towns, it was mind blowing to walk amongst the skyscrapers and witness a “real” downtown. Everywhere we looked we saw ourselves. We met people who were just like us and we were all encouraged to be different. We were encouraged to celebrate our eccentricities, to embrace our strangeness, to channel our creativity. Florida State Thespians was our oasis. We could sing as loud as we wanted, perform stage combat in the street, wear matching t-shirts with our troupe number on them, sweat it out waiting to find out, would we super superior?

I cannot express how critical arts education and arts experiences were to my personal development and how important it will be to the development of this next generation of artists. The experiences they will have, the friendships they will make, the different ideas, mediums, and genres they will learn about will make them more rounded, more thoughtful people. It will make a difference. It can’t be taught in a classroom or out of a book. It is a visceral, mind-blowing, life-changing event. If you think I’m over stating it, come on down here and witness it for yourself.

To any Thespians who might be reading this, welcome. Enjoy yourselves, learn as much as you can and be 100% authentic in your skin. We are so happy to have you here and we hope that maybe someday you’ll come back and make this performing arts center your home. Take one of your free nights and see Godspell in the Jaeb or Jobsite Theater's Pericles in the Shimberg. There are Florida Thespian Alums in both casts and they'd be more than happy to talk to you after the show. And don’t do anything stupid while you’re here. Those of us who have been to Festival know all the tricks and all the hiding places and we’re watching. ;)

-Kari G.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Opening for Green Day Again

From Joe Popp, guest contributor and composer, lyricis and guitarist for Jobsite's Pericles: Prince of Tires.

Life can be full of coincidences. Circa 1994 I was playing in a punk trio called dogs on ice in Tampa, Florida. We had some minor local success and even signed to a small label out of San Francisco run by Jello Biafra’s graphic artist. We were doing as good as any local band could hope to do, but thought that maybe we would get a big break after learning we were going to open for our punk idols Green Day.

The show was scheduled at a scrappy hole in the wall called The Brass Mug – sort of the CBGBs of Tampa. I remember the evening vividly. Green Day had not been signed by Reprise yet, but were doing great on Lookout Records. As we pulled into the club in our oxidized blue Ford Econoline, a rougher, more road worn van pulled into a space close to ours. It was them – yes, Green Day, all the way from the notorious punk rock mecca 924 Gilman Street. The band we listened to constantly and read so much about in the pages of our bible, the ‘zine Maximum Rocknroll.

We greeted them, and they seemed bigger than life. Tres Cool asked if any 5-0s were rolling because he had to “take care of some business,” and Mike Dirnt asked our bass player for a string, which he provided. The Mug was filled beyond legal capacity that night ¬– at least 400 in a place that regularly drew 40. We took the stage with anticipation and rocked a pretty good set to the enthusiastic crowd. We felt good. Then Green Day took the stage. They transformed the seedy club into a whirling vortex of energy. It didn’t matter that the sound was crap or the ceiling was low. They played with such tightness and fervor that I knew great things would come to them. My opinion of my band admittedly dropped drastically when I witnessed a new musical paradigm first hand. Weeks later their Dookie album was released on Reprise. Dookie sold millions of records and proved to be the record that lead them to stardom. My band went the way of most: we broke up.

I played in other bands and started getting involved in writing rock musicals. I had done quite a few in Tampa; my first being a Mac Wellman adaptation in 1994 and a very successful outdoor version of Macbeth in 1997 with my band Joe Popp as the witches. Hoping to score the next great rock musical, I left Tampa for NYC in 2000. I wanted to hear real rock music in a show; not just show tunes with electric guitars. I thought I could make a change. I had hope.

Once in New York I experienced some minor successes. I wrote a musical called MAXWELL that my old friends at Jobsite Theater produced in Tampa and later at the ultra-hip Williamsburg venue Galapagos Art Space in 2002. Some producers saw it, but passed. An old friend introduced me to up-and-coming writer Rinne Groff in 2003, and I composed some music for several of her plays. Along with Michael Friedman, I would later co-compose music for Rinne’s play In The Bubble, a musical spin on the 70’s heartthrob John Travolta movie The Boy In The Plastic Bubble. The show was directed by Micheal Grief of Rent fame and produced in 2007 by Northwestern University as part of the American Musical Theater Project. People saw it, but it still has yet to be produced again.

After what seemed to be a lifetime of being the opening band or the regional theater rock musical guy, I tried a new approach. No longer would I stab at music as a serious career, but just have fun doing projects. I started a band called The Hornrims with two old friends, and we get together once a week to write songs. For the past two and a half years, the band been has been working on an old idea I had of a mafia-inspired rock modernization of Shakespeare’s Pericles. I am still based in NYC but I work quite often with Jobsite Theater – the well-known risky troupe in Tampa Bay that helped me cut my artistic teeth for so many years and produced my musical MAXWELL. After struggling in NYC to find anyone interested, Jobsite artistic director David Jenkins hooked me up with writers Neil Gobioff and Shawn Paonessa to write the book. We had a few meetings, worked separately in NYC and Tampa and eventually came up with the rock musical Pericles: Prince of Tires.

We produced the show in a 99 seater at The Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center (now the Straz Center) with great success last summer. The creative team decided to give it a go in NYC and try to get some producers to look at it. The stars seemed to line up, and we luckily landed a week at New York’s famed HERE, a theater known for its cutting edge material. Pericles: Prince of Tires is now poised for a week of shows in Tampa as a tune-up, and then four shows in NYC starting April 15th – during American Idiot's final week of previews before it opens on the 20th.

Once again, in an odd way, I am opening for Green Day. We no longer share the crusty Brass Mug stage, but here we both are still doing what we do – making some kind of music. Green Day on a grand scale, and me and The Hornrims just getting together to blast some pop-punk once a week. Although my measured success falls far short of my idols, I feel I have achieved a certain kind of success – the success of persistence. I guess where I landed is summed up nicely in the final chorus of the final song of Pericles: Prince of Tires. The cast sings, “After all these years I’m here.” And you know what? I am.

-Joe Popp

Jobsite Theater is bringing back their production of Pericles: Prince of Tires in a showcase format to take to New York after playing a week of encore performances in Tampa. Pericles: Prince of Tires is a comic rock mob musical based on William Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre Joe Popp (dogs on ice, The Hornrims, MAXWELL) has paired his power-punk music and oddball sense of humor with the estimable talents of perennial Jobsite wordsmiths Neil Gobioff & Shawn Paonessa (The Curse of Milhaven, The March of the Kitefliers). Green Day's American Idiot opens on Broadway April 20.
-Kari G.

Full disclosure, I am a board member of Jobsite Theater and will be headed to New York to support this great show and see opening night of American Idiot. I just wanted to disclose that my vacation is better than yours...