June 02--As usual, the upcoming season at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in Tampa offers a little something to suit just about anyone's taste, from Shana Banana to "Porgy and Bess," the Rockettes and even a ballet version of "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Sprinkled throughout the 2013-14 season are some blockbuster events. The shows generating the most buzz are two of the most acclaimed Broadway productions of recent years, coming to the area for the first time. "The Book of Mormon," which won nine Tony Awards and has been called one of the best musicals of all time by several critics, is set to come to the Straz Nov. 12-24, and "Once," the lyrical and unusual love story that won the 2012 Tony for best musical, is scheduled for Feb. 11-16.
" 'Book of Mormon' and 'Once' are the exciting ones," said Straz President Judy Lisi. "But don't forget 'Porgy and Bess' won a Tony too, for best revival."
That Gershwin classic is set to open Jan. 14. The Broadway season also includes "Evita," (March 18-23), "Ghost," (April 22-27), Queen's "We Will Rock You" (May 13-18), and a new staging of the "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" featuring the Rockettes (Dec. 12-29).
"I hate to say it, but the only way you're going to be able to see some of these shows is with a season subscription," Lisi said. " 'Once' and 'The Book of Mormon' are going to sell out."
Dance has struggled to attract an audience in Tampa, but after the success of this season's concert from the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Straz is offering more dance than ever, including a production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" by the Scottish Ballet (Oct. 13) that's only appearing a few places in the country, and "The Nutcracker" (Dec. 7-8) by the Straz's own Next Generation Ballet, which features some of the finest pre-professional classical dancers in the world.
Musical offerings include Itzhak Perlman, who's widely considered one of the world's finest violinists (Feb. 1) and New Orleans jazz outfit Jonathan Batiste and The Stay Human Band (Feb. 18).
Garrison Keillor of "Prairie Home Companion" fame returns to the Straz Jan. 12, country singer Gretchen Peters comes to the intimate Jaeb Theatre on Jan. 12, and kids' favorite Shana Banana comes in with two shows, Sept. 28 and May 10.
The Florida Opera Festival's highlights for the season include Mozart's "The Magic Flute" (Feb. 7 and 9, 2014) and Bizet's "Carmen" (March 14 and 16).
Here's the season schedule. More shows will probably be added, and everything is subject to change. Tickets for most shows go
on sale Sept. 3. Call 813-229-7827 or visit www.starzcenter.org.
Sept. 4-19: "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" (Musical)
Sept. 28: "Fairy Tales Gone Bananas" with Shana Banana (Children)
Oct. 4: Patrizio Buanne (Classical)
Oct. 8: "Diving Pristine Seas" with Enric Sala (Lecture)
Oct. 10-19: "The Odyssey" (Theater)
Oct. 11-12: "Quiet Callings: An Evening of Improvisation and Inspiration" featuring Fred Johnson, Daniel Kelly and visual artist Marc Lavasseur (Music and art)
Oct. 13: "A Streetcar Named Desire" (Ballet)
Oct. 19: Broadway Ball (Special event)
Oct. 25: Improvised Shakespeare Company (Comedy)
Oct. 26: "Freckleface Strawberry the Musical" (Children)
Oct. 28: Melissa Ferrick (folk-rock)
Oct. 30-Nov. 24: "Macbeth" (Theater)
Nov. 4: Red Molly (Americana)
Nov. 8: The Piano Guys (Classical and pop)
Nov. 9: "The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Eric Carle Favourites " (Children)
Nov. 9-10: "Seth Rudetsky's My Big Fat Broadway Show" (Comedy)
Nov. 12-24: "The Book of Mormon" (Broadway)
Nov. 10: "Cadence: Home" (Documentary-style performance)
Dec. 7-8: "The Nutcracker" (Ballet)
Dec. 12-29: "Radio City Christmas Spectacular" (Broadway)
Dec. 14: Andrea Bocelli (Classical)
Dec. 16: John McCutcheon (Folk music)
Dec. 20: "An Evening of Shorts" (Theater)
Jan. 14: "Grizzlies, Piranhas and Man-eating Pigs" with Joel Sartore (Lecture)
Jan. 4: "Youth America Grand Prix Gala" (Ballet)
Jan. 8-Feb. 2: "The Hound of the Baskervilles" (Theater)
Jan. 12: An Evening with Garrison Keillor (Comedy)
Jan. 13: Gretchen Peters (Country)
Jan. 14-19: "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" (Broadway)
Jan. 28-April 13: "Disenchanted" (Musical)
Feb. 1: "Pirate Tales"! with Katie Adams (Children)
Feb. 1: Itzhak Perlman (Classical)
Feb. 7, 9: "The Magic Flute" (Opera)
Feb. 11-16: "Once" (Broadway)
Feb. 18: Jonathan Batiste and The Stay Human Band (jazz)
Feb. 21, 23: L'amour Toujours, a Popera! Concert (Opera)
Feb. 24: Carrie Newcomer (folk music)
Feb. 28-March 2: "Earth's Dinosaur Petting Zoo" (Family)
March 1: "Alton Brown -- Edible Inevitable Tour" (Cooking/comedy)
March 8: Opera Tampa Gala (special event)
March 10: Amy Speace (folk music)
March 14, 16: "Carmen" (Opera)
March 18-23: "Evita" (Broadway)
March 22: "Under the Seas Stories" with Katie Adams (Children)
April 1: "The Search for Life Beyond Earth" with Kevin Hand (Lecture)
April 3: Yair Dalal (Eclectic classical)
April 5: "Best of Tampa Bay" (Food)
April 8-13: "Jersey Boys" (Broadway)
April 14: Del Barber (Folk music)
April 15: "Master of the Fiddle" (Cajun music and dance)
April 22-27: "Ghost" (Broadway)
April 26: "Charlotte's Web (Children)
April 30: Aparna Ramaswamy (Indian dance)
March 5-30: "Crimes of the Heart" (Theater)
May 1-3: "Stomp" (Broadway)
May 3-4: "Sleeping Beauty (Ballet)
May 4: Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan (Mariachi)
May 5: Rose Cousins (folk-pop)
May 7-June 1: "All New People" (Theater)
May 10: "Banana Beach Party" with Shana Banana (Children)
May 10: "Sleeping Beauty Lite" (Children)
May 13-18: "We Will Rock You" (Broadway)
June 10-July 6, 2014: "Return to the Forbidden Planet" (Musical)
July 9-Aug. 3, 2014: "Inventing Van Gogh" (Theater).
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.
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