Thursday, August 28, 2014

Movie Review: November Man offers typical summer fare

Pierce Brosnan’s latest is an enjoyable but predictable medley of genre staples.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 5:46 PM

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Montenegro, 2008. Veteran C.I.A. spook Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan), the titular November Man — nicknamed such because there was nothing living after he swept through town — is grooming up-and-coming sharpshooter David Mason (Luke Bracey) in the spy trade.

First helpful hint: “You feel the need for a relationship? Get a dog.”

It’s all about emotional pragmatism in the dangerous and solitary cloak-and-dagger world; that’s nothing new. And not getting close won’t be a problem for Devereaux and Mason after the young gun clips a kid in the line of fire after the old hand tells him not to take the shot, even at Devereaux’s own peril. So the master retires from the game and the disgraced student fades into ops unknown.

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Do This — Labor Day Weekend's best

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

SCHMOO CUTE: Nationally touring circus artist Sara Schmoo is among the performers at the 14th Annual Gulfport GeckoFest on Aug 30.
  • SCHMOO CUTE: Nationally touring circus artist Sara Schmoo is among the performers at the 14th Annual Gulfport GeckoFest on Aug 30.


Ah, holiday weekend. For some of us the congested roads and beaches plus amateur partiers equals R&R time at home with some Netflix, snacks and a cuddle buddy at home.

The adventurous among us will venture out, and with good reason. There's much more to do than the standard barbecue-picnic routine. Here are some options:

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Movie Review: Persistence makes perfect

A new documentary, Persistence of Vision, delves into one of the greatest little-known tales in animation history.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 1:39 PM

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A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law happened upon a DVD while in the checkout line at a discount store, a Miramax kid-flick sampler that housed a dozen or so animated features for the low price of $3.99. How could she resist? My son, still too young to concern himself with matters of taste or quality (current favorite movie: King Kong Escapes), had been watching each of the movies, but soon became obsessed with one in particular, something called The Thief and the Cobbler. I knew nothing about it, but when your child starts looping a flick over and over again, eventually you sit down and check it out.

Featuring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Winters and Vincent Price, The Thief and the Cobbler was about as terrible as I had imagined. That said, I quickly realized something was up. In between the clumsily drawn stock moments and terrible songs were these amazing sequences, like Walt Disney and M.C. Escher had collaborated on some long-lost Middle Eastern-themed Fantasia. What was going on here? I started Googling. Four hours later my jaw was still on the floor.


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Steven Lolli: Confessions of an "Urban Jew"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Steven Lollis rants in Los Angeles black comedy scene got him noticed (and hired) by Katt Williams.
  • Steven Lolli's rants in Los Angeles' black comedy scene got him noticed (and hired) by Katt Williams.

Steven Lolli isn't afraid to share his opinions. The graduate of Gaither High School (who now lives in Los Angeles) makes a living sharing them on stage with no filter and a general disdain for what he sees as an unproductive status quo in comedy.

Those opinions have probably offended a few people, but it also made him a hit in predominantly black comedy clubs. It also got him noticed by Katt Williams, who promptly hired him as a writer and helped come up with his moniker, "Urban Jew."

Lolli headlines the Carrollwood Cultural Center on Saturday, and we asked him about his time in Tampa and what people can expect at his stand-up show.

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Sola at USF — dance by women, for women

USF's new dance performance defies restraints on artists in the 21st century.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Bliss Kohlmyer
  • Bliss Kohlmyer

In its most treacherous moments, the world of an artist is wrought with self-doubt and fear. The ability to produce, to create something out of nothing with sparse funding and support, is a daunting feat. 

Andee Scott — an assistant professor of modern dance and choreography at the University of South Florida — has spent the last decade of her career challenging the personal/societal limitations that creep up on professional creatives.

Scott’s newest project, Sola, is a medley six dance solos, choreographed by women for women. Sola will make its debut at the University of South Florida on Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. and have a repeat showing on the following night. The performance will tour the United States, making stops in New York, Michigan, Texas and Vermont through the course of the next year.

Scott’s first foray into the exploration of women’s place in dance was Woman’s Work: Reconstruction of Self, which she produced while living in Austin, Texas. She commissioned five solo pieces from female dancers around the world, through personal and professional connections.

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Merchandise, it is personal this time

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 3:08 AM

TAMPA BOYS: Merchandise in an old publicity photo.
  • TAMPA BOYS: Merchandise in an old publicity photo.

Last weekend I read that somewhat convoluted if evocative feature on the Tampa band Merchandise, newly signed to 4AD Records.

The magazine called Tampa "America's corniest town,"— its author, Jenn Pelly, who's written about the band more than once, opted for the British spelling of "favourite" and characterized lead Carson Cox as "the crooning 28-year-old frontman with old-soul charm and razor-sharp wit."

Corn is in the ear of the beholder, I suppose, and before I launch into my own diatribe, allow me to say congrats. I am genuinely happy for Merchandise and their hard-earned successes. I've always been a supporter of local bands — since the boys were still playing with their Ninja Turtles. Before my A&E gig, I interviewed local bands for TBT every week, in person (for the most part), for five years.


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Searching for Morphine in Lost Lemuria: Paul Kwiatkowski's Eat Prey Drug Continues Today

A Miami native rides the edge of the sublime.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 12:26 AM

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Let’s never spend even half a second indulging in the idea that there is a single spot on the Earth where something moving and weird isn’t happening pretty much constantly. We can look out over Tampa Heights or north Ybor or the stretches of swamp around Miami and sniff and shrug at the ugliness and treat it like it’s not really there. Or we can take the effort to turn to it a certain kind of eye able to see it.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An interview with Rory Lawrence, Tampa Bay Theatre Festival founder

It took an actor and director outside the Tampa Bay theater scene to organize its first ever theater festival.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 11:56 PM

THE SO-CALLED OUTSIDER: Actor, director, writer and Tampa Bay Theatre Festival founder Rory Lawrence. -
  • THE SO-CALLED OUTSIDER: Actor, director, writer and Tampa Bay Theatre Festival founder Rory Lawrence.

The inaugural Tampa Bay Theatre Festival takes place at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Stageworks, and the Courtyard by Mariott. Includes full-length play performances, a free networking social, an Improvisation workshop, and a 4-hour Acting Boot Camp taught by Hollywood actress Tasha Smith. Participating in the festival will be local theater personalities Gavin Hawk, Georgia Mallory Guy, Anna Brennen, Lil Barcaski and Nate Jacobs. $15-$20, workshops $10-$15, and the Acting Boot Camp $95. tampabaytheatrefestival.com.

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What’s in store at the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival

Workshops, networking and entertainment opportunities highlight the Tampa Bay Theatre Festival premiere.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 11:27 PM

JUMPIN’, JIVIN’: Saul’s Juke Joint, one of the plays at the fest, stars, from left, Amber Forbes, Rocky Cusseaux, Camille Scringer, Jay Washington and Kimberly Webb. - AMS VISIONS
  • AMS Visions
  • JUMPIN’, JIVIN’: Saul’s Juke Joint, one of the plays at the fest, stars, from left, Amber Forbes, Rocky Cusseaux, Camille Scringer, Jay Washington and Kimberly Webb.



OFF-THE-CUFF GURU: Improv coach Gavin Hawk leads a class 11 a.m. on Friday. -
  • OFF-THE-CUFF GURU: Improv coach Gavin Hawk leads a class 11 a.m. on Friday.
A first for our medium-sized metro, The Tampa Bay Theatre Festival will make its auspicious debut this weekend, offering a wide array educational, career and networking opportunities for the both amateurs and professionals in the local theater scene. There are even some great performance and entertainment auditions for those of us who prefer to sit in front of the stage and watch.

It’s particularly commendable how the Tampa Theatre Festival offers representation from some of our best and brightest in the theater community while bringing in some outside-the-clique talent. Founder Rory Lawrence appears to have pioneered an ethnically diverse and truly unifying experience.

The first day, Fri., Aug. 29, starts out with a registration and light breakfast provided by First Watch at Stageworks at 10 a.m.

At 11 a.m., participants can learn how to perform unscripted from improvisational guru Gavin Hawk’s Improv Workshop at Stageworks. At 1 p.m., actors can attend a workshop presented by the adorably versatile Georgia Mallory Guy, a critically raved-about professional actor who’ll share her real-life knowhow on The Business of Acting Workshop at Stageworks. Guy discusses what all those acronyms mean to an actors’ career — AEA, EMC, SAG. Stuff you don’t learn in college.

After a lunch break, participants will reconvene at Stageworks at 3 p.m. for the Low Down on Auditioning Workshop by Libya Pugh, who’ll demystify one of actors’ most dreaded routines.

At 7:30 p.m. Tampa Bay Theatre Festival will present the full-length play Death Row, written by Calhoun Cornwell, at the Straz Center’s Jaeb Theatre. The intense, morally charged play follows four men from different walks of life who have been accused of a capital crime, but it’s not clear whether they’re even guilty. 

TYLER PERRY FAVE: Tasha Smith leads a boot camp for actors.
  • TYLER PERRY FAVE: Tasha Smith leads a boot camp for actors.
Lighten your mood afterward at a networking party at Stageworks afterward, beginning at 9:30 p.m.

Another registration and light breakfast will be provided by First Watch at Stageworks on Sat., Aug. 30, at 8:30 a.m. One of the most anticipated workshops of the weekend begins starts off the day — which may be sold out at press time: Tasha Smith’s Boot Camp for Actors. Smith, who’s appeared in the Tyler Perry films Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married Too?, resurrects her Angela Williams character on the OWN com-dram series For Better or Worse. At 2:30 p.m., actors can attend a monologue competition at Stageworks, and at 5 p.m. playwrights go head to head for the Short Play Competition (Day 1) also at Stageworks.

Festers will cap off the day with plays that should be both uplifting and chuckle-icious: the swingin’ period piece Saul’s Juke Joint by Tony Stinyard and starring Kibwe Dorsey, who’s appeared in more than 50 films, plays, TV Shows and commercials, at the Straz.

STRAIGHT OUTTA JERSEY: The Year of Independent Living stars Crystal Farina and Dennis Johnson.
  • STRAIGHT OUTTA JERSEY: The Year of Independent Living stars Crystal Farina and Dennis Johnson.

Local director/playwright Lil Barcaski’s premiere of The Year of Independent Living ­— a comedy about two Jersey boys and the women who love them — at Stageworks. Both plays begin at 7:30 p.m.
A must-attend event follows the performances — a free open mic, 9:30 p.m. at Stageworks. With all that talent hovering over downtown Tampa, this open mic should be a bit more polished and more off the cuff than most.

The jam-packed fest spills over into Sun., Aug. 30, with CL’s very own theater critic Mark E. Leib leading a playwriting workshop at 11 a.m. At 12:30 p.m. the Short Play Competition (Day 2) convenes at the Straz.

More plays fill the afternoon at 3 p.m.: East Lansing at Stageworks and Seasons The Musical at the Straz.

The whole shebang concludes with a big party, of course — a 7 p.m. awards party at the Straz.

Tampa Bay Theatre Festival events will take place at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Stageworks, and the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Tampa. Costs for workshops, competitions and performances ranges from $20 to $95. A weekend pass is available for $100. Visit tampabaytheatrefestival.com to find out more about the event and rqlproductions.ticketbud.com/tampa-bay-theatre-festival to puchase tickets.



CL's Scene Breaker — Ned Averill-Snell's theater column debut

More Cuckoo, unbreakable plates and Jews everywhere: Here’s what’s behind the curtain this week in Tampa Bay theater ...

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 2:34 PM

CHOSEN ONES: Justin LeVine and David Friedman star in The Chosen. -  - CHAD JACOBS
  • Chad Jacobs
  • CHOSEN ONES: Justin LeVine and David Friedman star in The Chosen.


WAITING FOR THAT BIG BREAK: The final throwdown in Eight O'Clock Theatre’s dark comedy bickerama August: Osage County, now entering its closing weekend at the Largo Cultural Center, celebrates the hallowed family tradition of smashing dishes. But in rehearsals, the tossed china churlishly violated the script by choosing to bounce rather than break. Scoring the dishes once with a tile cutter for a preview performance resulted in a plate snapping neatly, into two perfect pieces, in an actor’s hand, pre-throw. Further scoring experiments yielded projectile plates that have shattered with sufficiently satisfying drama since opening, according to director Christopher Rutherford.

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