Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bradenton woman competes on GSN show Tuesday

Gleib, Mears and Miller
   Krista Miller of Bradenton will be among the contestants on the Game Show Network's "Idiotest."
   Miller and her sorority sister, Jen Mears of Jacksonville, will be on the show, which features to two teams of two people. In a series of rapid-fire rounds, the teams answer questions that test their observational skills.
The answers are often so obvious they're easy to overlook. (It may sound silly, but it's actually a lot more fun than the average game show.)
   The show airs at 9 p.m. The host is Ben Gleib, who's best known from appearances on "Chelsea Lately."

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sarasota Opera offers a powerful "Pagliacci"

   “Pagliacci” has a reputation as a short opera. In fact,  it’s usually presented with another opera on the same program.
    The current Sarasota Opera production presents “Pagliacci” by itself. It’s a thoroughly satisfying experience; the addition of another piece wouldn’t make the evening any more worthwhile.
    “Pagliacci" itself is compact rather than short – its action and its moods move swiftly, and it ends at the moment of its dramatic climax. In terms of length, this production, including intermission, runs about the same as a typical movie or play.

   The Sarasota Opera production is gorgeously designed and movingly acted and sung.

  "Pagliacci" photo  by Rod Millington
   The program opens with two short pieces performed by the Sarasota Orchestra. It’s a perfect appetizer for the feast ahead. The orchestra performs two intermezzi by Pietro Mascagni. He’s the composer of “Cavallera Rusticana,” the short opera most often paired with “Pagliacci.”
    Both the pieces, which aren’t often played outside of the context of their own operas, are poignantly lovely, and the Sarasota Orchestra, conducted by the opera’s artistic director Victor DeRenzi, performs them impeccably.
    After a prologue, sung in front of the curtain, the audience gets it first look at David P. Gordon’s set. It’s very pretty, complex and functional -- a stage on which the play-within-the opera is performed, an open space where the play’s audience gathers, and landscape features where the story of romance and betrayal plays out, all in one set.
    There are no weak links in the large cast – which includes members of the Sarasota Youth Opera as part of the chorus – but standouts include MIchael Robert Hendrick as Canio (who becomes Pagliaccio in the play) and Marco Nistico as Tonio, the hunchback.

   That story has to do with a traveling theater troupe that arrives in an Italian village to perform a comedy about a clown (Pagliaccio). Just before the show, Tonio finds out that Canio’s wife Nedda is betraying him with a local man.
    The devastated Canio realizes he must go on stage and portray a clown. But during the play parallels Canio’s life, sending him into a murderous rage. The audience only gradually realizes that they are no longer watching a play. The anguished Canio sings the legendary closing line, “The comedy is finished” – as the curtain closes. Stephanie Sundine’s direction is remarkably fluid, especially given the size of the cast and he complexity of the single set. Howard Tsvi Kaplan’s costumes are beautifully colorful.

   The story is terse and powerful, the music is melodic and familiar (Canio’s at the end of act one is as famous as any piece of opera music ever written), and this production serves the music and the story in a wonderful way. It’s a great season-opened for the Sarasota Opera.
    It runs though Nov. 15 at the Sarasota Opera, 61 N. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Curtain is at  8 p.m. 11 and 13 and 1:30 p.m. Nov. 15. Tickets run $19-$125. Call 941-366-8450 or go to sarasotaopera.org.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Nickelback sets date for Tampa concert

   Nickelback, the ultimate love-'em-or-hate-'em band, is coming to Tampa.
   The Canadian quartet is often maligned, but they've sold something like 50 million albums over the past couple of decade. They have a new album, "No Fixed Address," Coming out on Nov. 17.
  On Valentine's Day, they're setting out on a 61-city US tour. It stops at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on March 27. There's no word on an opening act; the Pretty Reckless is opening shows through March 15.
   Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 15. They'll set you back $32-$95.Call 813-740-2446 or go to livenation.com.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lewis Black performs in Tampa March 15

   Back in February,  comedian Lewis Black came to Sarasota with his popular stand-up show "The Rant Is Due."
   Now he's coming back to the area with a new show, titled "The Rant Is Due: Part Deux."
   It's not for a few months -- specifically, March 14 at  the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa -- but Black is a popular guy with Bradenton-area audiences
Lewis Black
so if you're a fan you'd be well advised not to wait too long to get tickets. His February show at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall sold out.
   Black is an author, a playwright, a movie actor and “Daily Show” commentator. But he sees himself himself primarily as a stand-up comedian. About 200 days a year he’s on a stage somewhere, grumbling hilariously about things that annoy him.
    Tickets are $25-$65 plus service charge and they'll go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday. Call 813-229-7827 or go to strazcenter.org.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New date for 'Piano Men' in Sarasota

   "The Piano Men" is coming to Sarasota sooner than we were expecting.
Jim Witter
   The show has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 15. That's nine days before the original date. The only explanation is that it's "due to a change in scheduling," which doesn't really tell us much.
   If you have tickets for the original date, they'll still be good on Feb. 15. If you have tickets but can't make it to the rescheduled show, you should call the box office at 941-953-3368.
  The show stars pianist Jim Witter. He performs with a backing band and performs the '70s hits of BIlly Joel and Elton John.

   If you don't have tickets but you want to see it, tickets will run you between $15 and $50. Call 941-953-3368 or go to vanwezel.org.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Jeff Corwin cancels Saturday's show in Tampa

    If you had planned to see Animal Planet host Jeff Corwin at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts Saturday, you'll have to make some different plans. His show, "Tales from the Field," has been canceled without explanation.
   There's no announcement of a new date and no talk about rescheduling, so it's apparently been just plain canceled. 
   If you bought tickets with a credit card you'll get an automatically refunded. If you paid by cash or check you should have your money back by check with a week or two.
   The box office number is 813-229-7827. The Straz website is strazcenter.org.

Friday, October 24, 2014

'West Side Story' opens at SCF in Bradenton

   People who know musical theater and who have seen rehearsals for the State College of Florida production of "West Side Story" say it could be something special.
   The musical itself is special, of course, with classic music by Leonard Bernstein and memorable lyrics by a young Stephen Sondheim, and an Arthur Laurents libretto about a Romeo-and-Juliet romance that crosses ethnic and gang lines. You probably know every single song in the show.

  The SCF production features a cast of 38, including some actors who will be familiar to local theater-goers. James Hyde (Tony) was Marius in the Manatee Players staging of "Les Miz," Chris McCoy (Riff) was Pinocchio in that same company's "Shrek," and Equity actor Preston Boyd is a local theater stalwart. Melodie Dickerson directs and there's a 15-piece orchestra conducted by Rex Willis.
   There are only three shows, starting Friday, Oct. 24. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. at the Neel Performing Arts Center at SCF, 5840 26th St, W. Bradenton. Tickets are $12 general admission; $6 students and SCF employees. Call 941-752-5252 or go to scf.edu/MusicEvents.