AMERICAN STAGE: BAD JEWS
We know that death draws family members closer together. Except when it drives them further apart.
A grandfather’s valuable heirloom shifts relatives from grief to competition, questions about who was closer to the deceased and even their theological purity. Bad Jews by Joshua Harmon is the New York Times’ pick for best comedy of this season.
"The No. 1 thing that drew me to this play," producing artistic director Stephanie Gularte said, "is the fact that this is a cast of 20-somethings who are really talking about things that matter to them. They are talking about family, heritage, mixed marriages, and they’re doing it in a very smart, articulate way."
The setting, a Passover Seder, heightens tension and humor.
"We’re watching their perspective," director Amy Resnick said. "What does it mean to be young and Jewish in America? What’s my purpose, what am I going to do? But it’s very universal. It could apply to anyone who is searching for identity."
Runs Friday through Aug. 5. 163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg. $39 and up. A preview Thursday starts at 8 p.m. and costs $29. (727) 823-7529. For showtimes, go to americanstage.org.
HEATHER THEATRE: RED
Ward Smith had wanted to play Mark Rothko for years but never had the chance. So finally, the artistic director of Heather Theatre selected Red, the two-character play by John Logan, and cast himself as the mercurial painter.
"I think this role is huge for actors," Smith said. "Like Hamlet, Iago, Lear, Willy Loman, Stanley Kowalski, etc. For the challenge and the demands."
Now all he needed was a director. Smith mentioned that to Roxanne Fay while both were working on Jobsite’s The Tempest. Fay agreed to direct him and David Schneider, who plays Ken, Rothko’s assistant. The two men apply a base coat as the play progresses, during which the master often berates his apprentice and belittles his understanding of art. But the world is changing.
"Art works in cycles," Fay said. "Rothko said he and Jackson Pollack destroyed cubism, they went past it and evolved. Now art is starting to move past abstract expressionism, to Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein."
It will be a different experience in the Heather’s tiny house than when American Stage did the show.
"There’s no extraneous movement in this show," Fay said. "There are moments of silence and stillness that can make you very uncomfortable." Friday through July 28 at the Heather Theatre, 8313 W Hillsborough Ave., Suite 250, Tampa. $25. (727) 709-5026. For showtimes, go to heathertheatre.org.
MAD THEATRE: IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU
She’s Jewish, he’s Catholic. They’re going for happily ever after — but will their families survive the weekend? Heather Lynn Mendoza, BroadwayWorld Tampa’s 2017 community theater winner for best actress in a musical, stars in It Shoulda Been You, Mad Theatre’s summer musical. Thursday through July 29 at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $26. (813) 229-7827. For showtimes, go to madtheatre.com.
PRE-PROFESSIONAL: BALLET AUDITIONS
Young dancers interested in a career may contact the Dance Center, which holds an audition-only ballet program with classes five to six days a week. The center offers private coaching and training to enter events such as the Youth American Grand Prix and the American Dance Competition. Applicants must be at least 9 years old and have at least three years of classical training. Auditions run through July and August. (813) 684-4282. brandondance.com.
L’Academie of Dance, St. Petersburg’s new ballet studio, is casting its debut production of the Nutcracker. From 10 a.m. to noon, artistic director Sean Musselman will audition roles for boys and girls ages 5 to 12; including soldiers, mice, angels, Mother Ginger and the party scene. Dancers ages 13 and older will audition from 1 to 3 p.m. for the Sugar Plum Fairy, the Waltz of the Flowers, the snow scene and all other scenes from the second act. 4853 Park Street North, St. Petersburg. (727) 826-0004. lacademieofdance.com.