Friday, July 24, 2015

Internet star Grumpy Cat appears in Tampa

   You've seen her on Facebook. Now you can see her in person.
   Tardar Sauce, who's better known as Grumpy Cat, will be at Tampa Theatre on to celebrate the premiere of her new BuzzFeed video, "Happiness Finds Grumpy Cat." (Happiness is the name of a dog who recognizes Grumpy Cat in the aisles of a PetSmart store. He tries to meet Grumpy and Grumpy tries to avoid him.)
   If you're unfamiliar with Grumpy Cat, you clearly don't waste enough time scrolling through social media feeds. She's a tiny 3-year-old cat from Arizona who has a pronounced and permanent frown on her face, reportedly a result of the same birth condition that caused her
Tardar Sauce, a.k.a Grumpy Cat
small stature. She became a star on the internet thanks to social media posts that juxtaposed her sour puss with wry captions (e.g. "You're still here. How disappointing"). She's also become a regular guest on TV shows, from "The Today Show" to "American Idol." And she's the "official spokescat" for Friskies, which is co-sponsoring the Tampa Theatre event with PetSmart.
   For the Tampa Theatre event, she'll be joined by five feline mascots -- DJ Kitty of the Tampa Bay Rays, Sir Purr of the Carolina PanthersStanley C. Panther of the Florida PanthersKingston the Lion of Orlando City Soccer Club and Aubie the Tiger of Auburn University.

   The event is free, and it's slated to run from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 4. The first 150 people who get there will be rewarded with tickets to "an exclusive meet-and-greet with the cat star-power onstage following the viewing," according to the press release. In other words, you'll get to say howdy to a cat.
   Tampa Theatre is at 711 N. Franklin St., right in the heart of downtown Tampa, Call 813-274-8981 or go

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Sarasota Music Archive celebrates 'Vinyl Day'

   It wasn't too many years ago that everyone except music snobs and elitists thought vinyl records were not worth the trouble. They're bulky and inconvenient and they get damaged easily. And you can't play them in your car.
   But vinyl's been coming back in a big way for a number of reasons. "Warmth" is a common adjective used to describe the format's appeal, and it applies to both the sound quality and the packaging. (There are lots of iconic covers from 12-inch albums; not many from CD booklets.)
   On Saturday, Sarasota Music Archive and Barnes & Noble are teaming up for a three-hour celebration of vinyl.
   From 6 to 9 p.m., the Barnes & Noble, 4010 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, will have a lot of exclusive and early releases on vinyl, by everyone from Josh Groban to Public Enemy. You can play music-created trivia games and get some special deals. If you buy

three LPs you'll get a free "Vinyl Day" tote bag. There's also a drawing for a Crosley
turntable and headphones (pictured at right).
   And, if you become a member of the Sarasota Music Archive at the event -- which costs $30 for one person or $40 for two -- you can pick 10 LPs for free from a designated bin.
   The Sarasota Music Archive is part of the Sarasota County Library System and it's connected to the Special Collections Department of the Selby Public Library. It includes  several hundred thousand recordings, tapes, sheet music and books.

   You can call Barnes & Noble at 941-923-9907 if you need more information.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Bradenton theater screens Robin Williams' last drama

   Robin Williams died 11 months ago, but several of the films he worked on near the end of his life have yet to be released.
   Bradenton audiences will get a chance to see one of those films on Tuesday when the Carmike Royal Palm 20 screens "Boulevard."
   It was Williams' final dramatic performance on screen. The story is about an aging man (Williams) who has lived an oppressively dull existence until a chance encounter with a troubled stranger leads him to break free.

a man  (Williams) who has worked at the same bank many years, in a life of monotony. A chance meeting with a troubled young man named lead him to break from the confines of his old life.
   It also stars Kathy Baker and Bob Odenkirk.
  The official release date isn't until Friday, July 10, so Bradenton audiences will be among the first to see the film.
   There's only one screening of  "Boulevard" scheduled, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 7. The Carrmike Royal Palm 20 is at  2507 53rd Ave E., Bradenton. Call 941-752-3796.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Theatre Odyssey's play festival returns to Sarasota

   Ten-minute play festivals have been popping up all across the country in recent years. They're popular with playwrights, theater companies and audiences.
   Playwrights appreciate the chance to be produced and get some money, theater companies like them because they can help develop new work and up-and-coming writers, and audiences like them because they generally make for really edifying and entertaining evenings of theater. And since the plays are short, audiences don't risk the boredom of a full-length show that they don't like. If you don't like one 10-minute play, you'll probably like the next one, and it's right around the corner.
"As Long as the Moon Shines"
Photo by Cliff Roles
 Locally, Theatre Odyssey's annual Ten-Minute Play Festival has become one of the most respected.The 10th annual festival is coming up this weekend. It runs today through Sunday at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts in Sarasota.
   This year's plays are "The Coward" by Dylan Jones, "Dancing Lessons" by Connie Schindewolf, "Dream On, Merry Mae" by Bernard Yanelli, "High School Reunion" by Arthur Keyser, "It's Time to Move On" by Ron Pantello, "The Locket" by Mark Leib, "Nimby" by Robert Kinast and "Why" by Marvin Albert.
   The plays get full productions from local theater professionals, and they're judged by a panel of theater experts. There's a cash prize for the winner. (Full disclosure: I am among the judges this year. The others are Summer Wallace, head of the theater department at Riverview High School and an adjunct professor of theater at New College of Florida, and Jim Sorensen, a prominent local actor who recently joined the staff of Florida Studio Theatre. The judges all volunteer their time.)
   The plays this year are about divided between comedies and dramas. There's also a bonus play. Theatre Odyssey hosts a student festival every year, and this year's winner, "As Long as the Moon Shines" by Julien Freij, a junior at St. Stephen's Episcopal School in Bradenton will be staged again this weekend. It won't be judged and it won't be eligible for the prize money, though.
   This year's festival has a couple of new elements. The opening night performance will be interpreted into American Sign Language, and 12-year-old violin prodigy Jenny Armor will perform during the intervals between plays between plays. 

   Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets are $20. Call 941-799-7224, or go to

Friday, April 24, 2015

2Cellos cancel U.S. tour, including Tampa date

   If you you were planning on spending the evening of May 9 watching two young Croatian cellists rock out, well ... sorry.
Stjepan Hauser (left) in happier times
   2Cellos were supposed to perform at Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa that night, but on Friday the show was canceled. Apparently Stjepan Hauser -- one of the 2Cellos -- has injured his neck. It's not a serious injury, 2Cellos' p.r. people say, but still the duo has canceled its US tour. The people at the Straz say a new date will be announced soon.
   Meanwhile, if you already have tickets, you got some money coming back to you. If you bought them with credit card you'll get an automatic refund. If you paid with cash or a check, you'll get a check in the mail in a week or two.
   For more information, call 813-229-7827 or go to

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Kevin Nealon to perform in St. Petersburg

   If you missed Kevin Nealon's appearance at McCurdy's Comedy Theatre in Sarasota in November -- or if you caught that show and you're dying to see him again -- fret not. He has just scheduled another show in the area.
   Nealon, one of the funniest people who's been on "Saturday Night Live" over the past several decades, will be at the Palladium in St. Petersburg on Oct. 17.
Kevin Nealon
   He's best known for his sketch work on "SNL" and for his role on the Showtime series "Weeds," but he started as a stand-up comedian and he said that's still his first love.
   "Stand-up is what I started doing," Nealon said in an interview with the Herald. "It's all I ever wanted to do."
   The Palladium is at 253 Fifth Ave. N., on the outskirts of downtown St. Petersburg, Tickets go on sale at noon Friday, May 1, and they cost $37.50, $45.50 and $52.50. Call 727-893-7832 or go to for tickets. If you want more information about the show or the venue, go

Friday, April 17, 2015

"Pippin" scores in Tampa despite off-key Pippin

   It was opening night for the national tour of “Pippin’ at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa. The house lights came on for intermission during the opening. In the audience, two friends compared their observations.
   “The guy who plays Pippin cannot sing at all.”
   “SO bad!”
   “But he’s really hot.”
   “SO hot!”

Sasha Allen and "Pippin" castmates
   How good is this new production of the classic musical?
   Despite an actor in the title role who regularly hits notes as sour as month-old milk, it turns out to be one of the best Broadway shows that has come our way in years.

   Sam Lips is the guy who plays Pippin in this very fictionalized story about Charlemagne’s son, and it's only fair to note that his acting is adequate and his dancing and acrobatic work are quite good.
   And, fortunately, he’s surrounded by an amazing cast without any other weak links.
   Sasha Allen, who lists “The Voice” first among her credits in the program, is ferocious as the Leading Player, a role most often associated with male actors. Allen has the vocal chops, the confidence and the charisma the role demands. She sometimes makes you think of Tina Turner in “Beyond Thunderdome.”

   John Rubinstein, the original Pippin on Broadway, is a lot of fun here as Charles, and Adrienne Barbeau is a revelation as Pippin’s grandmother Berthe.

   The 70-ish Barbeau swings from a trapeze, performing stunts, singing well while she’s hanging upside-down and looking quite good in her somewhat revealing form-fitting costume.
    Director Diane Paulus’ circus motif for the production, created by Gypsy Snider with a luscious big-top set by Scott Pask, is wondrous, packed with impressive illusions and Cirque du Solieil-style aerial stunts. Dominique Lemieux’ costumes, Kenneth Posner’s lights and Chet Walker’s choreography are all lovely and flavorful. And there’s killer a four-piece pit orchestra that sounds much larger than it is.

And, of course, “Pippin” is packed with great Stephen Schwartz songs and a clever book by Roger O. Hirson.
   It’s a show that’s almost flawless.
   Unfortunately, its one flaw is huge. 
   It runs through April 19 at the Straz Center, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. The remaining shows are at 8 p.m. Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets will run you $61.50-$85.50 plus service charge. call 813-229-7827 or go to

Read more here: