Hat Trick Theatre Productions Inc. proves a clown’s life isn’t all laughs in “A Thousand Clowns,” showing at the Shimberg Playhouse at the Straz Center through Dec. 22.
The Lutz-based professional theater company is tackling Herb Gardner’s 1962 comedy-drama about an eccentric comic and unemployed television writer who is forced to conform to society’s standards to retain custody of his orphaned nephew. The play was adapted to screen in 1965, starring Jason Robards.
For its purposes, Hat Trick has changed the gender of Uncle Murray’s 12-year-old ward to provide actress Hannah Anton her professional stage debut.
Not only does Anton demonstrate talent beyond her years in her role as Nicki, she formed an immediate bond with co-star Ned Averill-Snell that translates into a poignant performance, director Jack Holloway said.
Arriving in the Tampa Bay area a few years ago, Averill-Snell has quickly made a name for himself with favorable reviews for his parts in American Stage’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” Jobsite Theater’s “Fahrenheit 451,” Gorilla Theatre’s “Sideshow” and his one-man show, “Little Tunes,” which was selected for the 2012 United Solo festival in New York City.
Although it’s not a traditional holiday production, Holloway says the heartwarming theme of “A Thousand Clowns” lends itself to the spirit of the season.
Joining Averill-Snell and Anton onstage are Ian Beck, Dana Kovar, Peter Konowicz and Michael C. McGreevy.
Founded in 2004, Hat Trick Theatre Productions Inc. spent its fledgling years performing in Hudson before moving to Shimberg Playhouse last year.
Hat Trick will follow up “A Thousand Clowns” with a New Year’s Eve party at the Howard Johnson Plaza Downtown Tampa, 111 W. Fortune St.. The event will include music, dancing, an open bar and a champagne toast when the ball drops at midnight. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Email newyears@hattricktheatre .com to purchase tickets.