Saturday, December 27, 2014

Do This: The Weekend Top 5

Live bands, burlesque, ballet and cabaret entertain the dysfunction away this weekend.

Posted By on Sat, Dec 27, 2014 at 1:30 PM

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It's likely the slowest time for performances and festivals, so get out and catch some bands.

Enjoy first-rate garage and punk rock with Pretty Voices, Car Bomb Driver and Dead Fender Twin at the Market on 7th Saturday night.

Nearby, at New World Brewery, diverse indie bands Sunbears!, DieAlps! (pictured above — they also made Leilani's top albums of the year), The Pauses and Alameda culminate New Granada's big 20-year anniversary three-day celebration. $8. Click here for more.

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Our very favorite dysfunctional stage mother-and-son cabaret act headlines what's sure to be a hoot of a show Saturday and Sunday night. The oh-so-special holiday special, A Scott and Patti Holiday Extravaganza, stars award-winning talents Matthew McGee and Scott Daniel, and offers a twist on TV holiday concert specials from your childhood — you know, the ones starring Andy Williams, Cher and other bygone icons. Songs, dances, comedic gags and surprise guests. Tunes include “The First Noel,” “Joy to the World,” “O Holy Night” and several others. Stay after for a meet and greet with the dynamic duo, who’ll make you feel “warmer than your Aunt Fanny’s fluffy poinsettia sweater.” Dec. 27 at 8 p.m. and Dec. 28 at 3 p.m. $20. Stageworks Theatre, 1120 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, stageworkstheatre.org.

Hellcats Burlesque: Tinker Toys & Tassels — The Tampa ladies put some va-va-voom in your holiday weekend. $10. Sat., Dec. 27, 10:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Tampa Pitcher Show, 14416 N. Dale Mabry, Tampa. 813-963-0578. tampapitchershow.net.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker — Celebrate a beloved Christmas tradition with the fam as 40 world-class Russian artists bring the time-honored classic to life. Experience Tchaikovsky’s master score this Christmas with the magic of larger than-life-puppets, growing Christmas tree and life-sized Matrushka Dolls! More at nutcracker.com. Sun.,noon, 4 and 8 p.m. at the Mahaffey Theater, $32-$190, themahaffey.com




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Friday, December 26, 2014

The Wire digital remaster is on HBO Signature NOW!

Posted By on Fri, Dec 26, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Don't so much as think about the Walking Dead. Man gotta have a code. - HBO
  • HBO
  • Don't so much as think about the Walking Dead. Man gotta have a code.

Let’s be completely clear. The Wire is the greatest television serial drama of all time (at least, if you’re a guy, but we’ll save that discussion). It’s a Shakespearean drama that excises and exposes America’s heart of darkness through characters who are at once very real and mythically huge. It is moving, and intricate, and gut-wrenching, and, you may be surprised to hear, slowly paced and only intermittently violent in any traditional cops-and-robbers way.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tampa Theatre to screen The Interview this weekend

See the film that sparked the entertainment industry's biggest cyber attack. But is it anywhere as good as other films premiering this week?

Posted By on Thu, Dec 25, 2014 at 6:38 AM

YES, IT'S HAPPENING: James Franco and Seth Rogen star in The Interview.
  • YES, IT'S HAPPENING: James Franco and Seth Rogen star in The Interview.

The film that incited a cyber attack and worldwide controversy — the film that was about to open, canceled and then announced to open in limited release — will open at Tampa Theatre this weekend. Sony Pictures, the company that endured a more damaging hacking job than Target this month, canceled its Christmas Day release after a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace threatened 9/11-style terrorist attacks on any theater that screened it.

“Freedom has prevailed! Sony didn’t give up!” co-director, co-star and co-writer Seth Rogen wrote this past week on Twitter. 

According to The New York Times: "Theater owners and government officials have been trying to assess the credibility of the terrorism threat, which came on Dec. 16 and warned of 9/11-scale violence if The Interview was released. Initially, the FBI had guided theaters to treat the missive like a bomb threat — credible until it could be proved otherwise. But law enforcement agencies have in recent days softened that assessment, according to people briefed on the matter."

The story in the NYT went on to say that art-house theaters showing the film might still take unusual security measures, perhaps by banning backpacks or packages or posting signs advising customers of added risk, said people briefed on their plans.

"We will have off-duty police officers there tonight and for all the screenings, but that is our standard practice anytime we have a late night movie and or anticipate a near-capacity crowd," says Tampa Theatre spokeswoman Jill Witecki. "So the answer is yes, but that is not out of the ordinary for us."

The movie's plot follows Dave Skylark (James Franco) and producer Aaron Rapaport (Rogen) who run a celebrity tabloid show Skylark Tonight.  When they discover that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a fan of the show, they land an interview with him in an attempt to legitimize themselves as journalists. But plans change (and plot stretches a mile wide) when CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) recruits the bumbling Skylark and Rapaport to turn their trip to Pyongyang into a mission to assassinate the North Korean dictator.

Show times are 10:45 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 26-27 and Jan. 2-3. Tickets are $11 for adults and $9 for Tampa Theatre Members, seniors and military, available at the Tampa Box office or online at tampatheatre.org (service fees apply.) Stay tuned for updates.


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Six TV shows worth watching in 2014

2014 was a particularly strong year for TV, even without Breaking Bad.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 9:14 AM

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There was a ton of garbage on television the past year. No debating that. However, 2014 was a particularly strong year for TV, even without Breaking Bad leading the way. Below is a list of my top shows.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The year in visual art: Milestones, goodbyes and new beginnings

A look back at the arts heroes who left us, landmark exhibitions and some breakthrough moments.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 2:05 PM

FOND FAREWELL: Theo Wujcik at his last Tempus Projects show, On a Clear Day. - AMY MARTZ
  • AMY MARTZ
  • FOND FAREWELL: Theo Wujcik at his last Tempus Projects show, On a Clear Day.



Remembering Theo: While 2014 was memorable for many happy reasons, it was also a time of loss and sadness for Tampa Bay’s visual art community. In March, artist Theo Wujcik, a revered mentor to several generations of Tampa artists and longtime art professor at the University of South Florida, died of cancer. An accomplished printmaker, Wujcik arrived in Tampa in 1970 to oversee USF’s then-fledging Graphicstudio but quickly transitioned to teaching, which he continued until his retirement in 2003. Wujcik was celebrated — idolized, even — locally for achieving national success, mostly during the 1970s, with his meticulously drawn portraits of other artists such as personal friends Robert Rauschenberg and Ed Ruscha. In subsequent years, he embarked on a stylistically diverse career that included the formation of a Tampa-based, Dada-inspired art collective called Mododado and a deep exploration of painting in the vein of Pop Art.

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8 murals that make us heart the Burg

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 2:03 PM

BONES ABOUT IT: This skeletal rider appeared on Second Avenue South and Sixth Street during the early fall and has already been featured as a backdrop in a locally shot film. More details to come. - COURTESY OF ROBERT DRAPKIN
  • COURTESY OF ROBERT DRAPKIN
  • BONES ABOUT IT: This skeletal rider appeared on Second Avenue South and Sixth Street during the early fall and has already been featured as a backdrop in a locally shot film. More details to come.

Downtown St. Petersburg is now a mural mecca, and the national media have taken notice. In addition to the virtual stpetemuraltour.com, established to familiarize locals with the artists, the Mural Walking Tour gets art lovers to hoof it weekly on Saturday mornings.

Here, we wish to provide ink and recognition to some of the hard-working artists who contributed to St. Pete’s urban museum over the past year.

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Movie review: Into the Woods follows the path of the Broadway original

The "Disney-fication" of this Sondheim classic hasn't blunted its heart or hummability.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 1:51 PM

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In the 12 years since the Oscar-winning Chicago revived the musical as a viable film genre, the transition from Broadway to screen has had widely varied results. For every Dreamgirls or Hairspray, there has been a Nine or, worse yet, Rock of Ages.

This year alone, we’ve been treated to three musical adaptations. The less said about Jersey Boys the better, and there is something about the ads for the new Annie that makes me slightly uneasy.

And then there’s the adaptation of Into the Woods. Written by Stephen Sondheim during (arguably) his most fertile period as a composer — the 1970s and 1980s — the fairy-tale musical was overshadowed by Phantom of the Opera at the Tony Awards and has since been more admired than loved by many (even some theater folk). As a result, studios have been wary to circle Sondheim properties (a notable exception was Sweeney Todd, mainly because it featured Johnny Depp bathing the proceedings in buckets of blood).


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10 amazing shows that Leib totally loved!

CL's esteemed theater critic weighs in with his own listicle.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 1:28 PM

SCORCHING!  Eric Davis and Dick Baker in - The Normal Heart. - MIKE WOOD LIGHTING
  • MIKE WOOD LIGHTING
  • SCORCHING! Eric Davis and Dick Baker in The Normal Heart.


Time again to look back over the year in Tampa Bay area theater and choose the best homegrown productions. My Top 10 list for 2014 looks like this:

1. The Normal Heart, freeFall Theatre. Larry Kramer’s courageous cri de coeur is about the early days of the AIDS epidemic, when President Reagan and Mayor Koch wouldn’t mention it, the New York Times wouldn’t publicize it, and gay New Yorkers wouldn’t protect themselves from it. In freeFall’s scorching production, Eric Davis was a furious Ned Weeks, striving vociferously to warn the world about the new plague and being obstructed at every turn by indifferent politicians and closeted friends. Call it the Theater of Outrage.

2. Two Trains Running, American Stage. On the surface, Two Trains is about Memphis, who owns a diner, and the men and women who eat and work there. But August Wilson’s real subject is the mysterious beauty of his African-American characters, their luminous spirits and their stubborn endurance. Lovingly directed by Bob Devin Jones, actors Kim Sullivan, Alan Bomar Jones and others brought the late author’s vision to us with an artistry that was apropos of everything.

3. An Iliad, Gorilla Theatre. This near-perfect stage monologue isn’t just about Achilles and Patroclus and Hector and that crew; it’s about the strange animal aggression that we carry in our blood and that has made war a staple of human history for the last 4000 years. Playing everyone from Homer himself to Andromache and her son Astyanax, Brendan Ragan was tender, livid, grief-stricken, insane, plaintive, vicious — in short, brilliantly multifarious. Ami Sallee directed with shattering success.

SPACED OUT! Jonathan Harrison and Amy Gray in Return to the Forbidden Planet. - CRAWFORD LONG
  • crawford long
  • SPACED OUT! Jonathan Harrison and Amy Gray in Return to the Forbidden Planet.

4. Return to the Forbidden Planet, Jobsite Theater and the Straz Center. This raucously silly sci-fi musical had a host of Bay area theater regulars acting their hearts out while singing “Great Balls of Fire,” “Good Vibrations” and “A Teenager in Love.” It also offered a slew of Shakespeare misquotes, including “To beep or not to beep.” Deep down, Return was really a celebration of local theater’s continuing vitality. What a party!

5. God of Carnage, American Stage. Yasmina Reza’s hilarious comedy is about two couples who meet to discuss a fight between their 11-year-old boys. Problem is, these adults are less civilized than their children, and before the evening ends, they grant us a picture of malice and chaos that the kids couldn’t have dreamed. With Bay area favorites Katherine Michelle Tanner and Brian Shea playing along with Billy Edwards and Cathy Schenkelberg, this was an uproarious treat.

6. The Chosen, American Stage. It’s not many plays that deliver as much as does Aaron Posner’s intelligent adaptation of Chaim Potok’s beloved novel. In two short acts, we get two Jewish youths’ friendship, their rebellions against their fathers, the study of Talmud, the conflict between types of psychology, and the founding of Israel in the shadow of the Holocaust. T. Scott Wooten’s direction was superb and, as the two boys, David Friedman and Justin LeVine were first-rate.

7. The Divine Sister, Stageworks. Matthew McGee is the Bay area’s reigning comic (and cross-dresser), and as the Mother Superior of St. Veronica’s Convent and School, he couldn’t have been funnier. Charles Busch’s script brought us respectful parodies of every nun who ever crossed a stage or screen, and Karla Hartley’s direction was a hyper-campy tribute not only to the text but to McGee’s talent. Add Frank Chavez’s stunningly churchy set and you get an
unforgettable production.

8. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Tampa Repertory Theatre. The main story here was simmering Dahlia Legault as Maggie the Cat and rising star Nathan Jokela as alcoholic Brick in Tennessee Williams’s classic look at Mendacity and Mortality in the Mean Modern South. Can indefatigable Maggie get her contemptuous husband back to bed? Yes — if she can only find a 100-proof quid pro quo. Jim Wicker and Jeanne M. Adams provided talented support.

9. The Mikado, freeFall Theatre. It was director Eric Davis’s bright idea to present this classic Gilbert and Sullivan romp with an all-male cast, and the gambit worked swimmingly. Glenn Gover and Patrick Ryan Sullivan were terrific playing male Ko-Ko and the title character, but so were Emanuel Carrero as everyone’s favorite girl Yum-Yum, and Matthew McGee as nightmare bride Katisha. G&S would have been proud.

10. Disenchanted!, Straz Center. The real point of this visit with famous Disney women was its protest against the ghettoization of female potential. So in this delightful musical (book, music, and lyrics by Dennis T. Glacino) we watched Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Pocahontas and others explain why “Happily ever after can be a royal pain in the ass.” Can catchy music and intelligent lyrics get sexist Prince Charming off his pedestal? Yes they can: Disenchanted! was bold feminist theater. 

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Year-end lists: 12 movie moments I can't get out of my head!

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 1:14 PM

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Ever since 1971 (with some pauses), Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy have published am annual “Moments Out of Time” list, capturing “the ephemeral moments of cinema magic throughout the previous year.” I discovered the lists in the 1980s and have been fascinated by them ever since. I totally get it — who amongst us doesn’t remember small instances from movies? As a matter of fact, my earliest cinematic memory was of a single scene in a film — Tommy Sands and Annette Funicello surrounded by the living trees in Babes in Toyland, an image so terrifying to my young self that I crawled into my mother’s lap and hid my face (yes, that movie’s old – but then, so am I). Every year there are lines, gestures, shots and more that stand out from my year in the dark. Here are but a few. . .

1. “You don’t get it, do you? I’m running things now!” —Julia Roberts to Meryl Streep at the end of a disastrous family dinner in August: Osage County. Two actresses at full throttle…

2. Llewyn Davis, with a cat tucked under his arm, trolling the city in Inside Llewyn Davis. So he does care about something else besides his music…

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3. The placid, almost blank, creepiness of Jake Gyllenhaal’s face in Enemy and (especially) Nightcrawler. One of the most underrated actors working in film today…

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Nominate your favorite St. Pete muse!

AASP invites the community to vote on favorite artists, performers who inspire all.

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 11:01 AM

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The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance's Muse 2015 —  an upcoming gala for the arts that debuted last year and returns on Fri., Jan. 30, to the Museum of Fine Arts with another eclectic assortment of premier St. Petersburg-area food, drinks and entertainment to benefit local artists and arts organizations — has issued a call for nominees for new local muses of the year.

The organization has asked the community to name individuals who "inspire and guide our city to its standing as an arts destination" to receive a 2015 Muse Award.

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