Comedy + Musical = Gutenberg! The Musical!

Gutenberg-Slider_w-logo-and-website-wOpening Friday, March 13th at the American Stage is Gutenberg! The Musical! Directed by Steven Flaa, this two-man musical spoof stars Matthew McGee & Joey Panek as a pair of aspiring playwrights auditioning their new project – a musical about printing press inventor Johann Gutenberg. With hopes that one of the producers attending their backers’ audition will take it to Broadway, the two playwrights sing all the songs and play all the parts in this hilarious production. Joey Panek told Jay Handelman of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “I’ve been telling everybody it’s about two guys who wrote a bad musical that they’re trying to pitch. But it’s intentionally bad. It’s like ‘South Park’ or ‘Family Guy’ doing a musical.” So if you are a fan of either of those shows or just like to laugh, check out Gutenberg! The Musical during its run with the American Stage Theatre Company! For full details and to purchase tickets, click here.

Written by Stephanie Smalling

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American Stage welcomes new Producing Artistic Director

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This year, the American Stage Theatre Company introduces Stephanie Gularte as the company’s next Producing Artistic Director. Stephanie brings to the company a tremendous background in the arts spanning over fourteen years, including ten years as the Executive Artistic Director and the Founding Artistic Director of Capital Stage Company, an acclaimed non-profit theatre company in Sacramento, California. She has produced over 80 plays and musicals, always pursuing high quality programming from new plays to adaptations of classic works. Her work includes artistic direction over productions of The Mountaintop, Master Class, and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. In 2009, Sacramento Magazine named Stephanie one of “Forty Under Forty: The Next Generation of Power Players” for her work with Capital Stage, and has been recognized for many other achievements including a proclamation from the City of Sacramento in 2014, honoring her many years of service to the arts in the region. Stephanie holds two Bachelor of Arts degrees in theatre arts and government from California State University at Sacramento, and is currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in directing at the University of Idaho. About her new position as Producing Artistic Director, Stephanie stated, “I am thrilled to be joining the team at American Stage. Together with the company’s talented staff and dedicated board of trustees, I look forward to building on American Stage’s impressive history and am eager to become a part of the dynamic Tampa Bay community”. Welcome to American Stage Theatre Company Stephanie, can’t wait to experience your work!

Written by Stephanie Smalling

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American Stage in Park Presents In the Heights & Gala Under the Stars in April

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Celebrate 30 years of American Stage in the Park as the American Stage Theatre presents the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical In The Heights! A Pulitzer finalist with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, In The Heights took Broadway by storm in 2008 winning the Tony Award for “Best Musical” for its story set in the vibrant community of New York City’s Washington Heights neighborhood about chasing your dreams and finding your true home, adding lots of different flavor and natural rhythm along the way. In a review of the original Broadway show, Chicago Sun-Times exclaimed this musical was “The West Side Story for a new generation”! You can expect the same from American Stage’s production directed by Karla Hartley, with its Stage in the Park run from April 24th to May 17th (Previews April 22nd and 23rd) at Demens Landing Park. To purchase advance tickets for any of the American Stage in the Park: In the Heights performances, click here or call our box office at 727-823-7529.

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Also, look out for the opportunity to enjoy opening night with American Stage during the 2015 Gala Under the Stars on Friday, April 24th, beginning 6 pm. Besides seats to the opening performance, attendees of the annual Gala will also experience a gourmet dinner by Parkshore Grill Catering, open bar, and both silent and live auctions. For specific details about table sponsorship, auction donation, or a full brochure of he festivities: visit americanstage.org/gala-under-the-stars.

Written by Stephanie Smalling

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A Season of Awakenings at American Stage

15-16-Season_sliderGet ready for American Stage Theatre Company’s 2015-2016 season! The company has announced their full lineup of mainstage productions as well as their annual American Stage in the Park production; and with a collection of Tony Award-winning plays, Tampa Bay premieres, one musical, and the ninth installment of the August Wilson Century Cycle: the company is exclaiming they are bringing “a season of awakenings”. First up in the season is Intimate Apparel by the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, then The 39 Steps, a comedic mix between an Alfred Hitchcock classic and a spy novel. In early ’16, American Stage will continue their August Wilson’s Century Cycle with Jitney and continue the new year with Amy Herzog’s 4000 Miles. American Stage in the Park will continue its outdoor tradition in April 2016 with the hilarious Monty Python’s Spamalot, and the summer will bring a one-man comedy A Tale of Two Cities and Tony Award-winning writer Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters. A very diverse lineup, the selections were made purposely to highlight different aspects of the American experience like Interim Artistic Director, Meg Hemistead explained, “This season highlights the importance of providing a platform for all creative voices and sharing multiple viewpoints on what it means to be human with our audience.” Visit americanstage.org or call 727-823-PLAY (7529) for more information on all upcoming 2015-2016 productions. Subscribe today to guarantee the best seats and save up to 27% off single tickets with a Mainstage Subscription. Click here for details.

Read the Previews – Click Below:

Tampa Bay Times Preview by Stephanie Hayes

Creative Loafing Preview by Mark E. Leib

American Theatre Preview by the American Theatre Editors

Sarasota Herald-Tribune Preview by Jay Handelman

Written by Stephanie Smalling

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August Wilson’s Radio Golf Continues to Impress

(L-R) Alan Bomar Jones, Anthony Chisholm, and ranney  Photo Credit: Chad Jacobs

(L-R) Alan Bomar Jones, Anthony Chisholm, and ranney
Photo Credit: Chad Jacobs

For the eighth installment of their Century Cycle series, the American Stage Theatre Company presents August Wilson’s Tony-nominated drama, Radio Golf. A winner of the NY Drama Critics Circle Award for “Best American Play”, Radio Golf follows Harmond Wilks, a real estate developer on the verge of becoming Pittsburgh’s first African-American Mayor who soon finds himself in conflict with a lucrative land deal that could lead to monetary success for him and his partners but jeopardize a cultural past. Beyond its plot, Wilson’s tenth and final play showcases, “memorable dialogue, thought-provoking commentary, and some notable acting”, writes Mark Leib in his review of the production. Directed by Mark Clayton Southers and featuring a cast including Anthony Chisholm once again in his Tony-nominated role as Elder Joseph Barlow, Peter Nason of broadwayworld.com advises theatregoers, “… it will be your loss to miss this incredible experience with a top-flight cast that nails every word, every pause, every moment”. Take Nason’s advice, do not miss out on this powerful production of Radio Golf now running until Sunday, February 22! For more information and tickets, visit americanstage.org or call 727.823.PLAY (7529)

Cast
Chrystal Bates — Mame Wilks
Anthony Chisholm (Tony Nominee & seen in HBO’s OZ )* — Elder Joseph Barlow
Alan Bomar Jones* — Harmond Wilks
“ranney”* — Sterling
Kim Sullivan* — Roosevelt Hicks

*= member, Actor’s Equity Association

Written by Stephanie Smalling

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Check out the last Mainstage production of the 2013-2014 Season- GOD OF CARNAGE!

GOD OF CARNAGE by Yasmina Reza played to a sold-out audience last Friday, its opening night, at American Stage. The play, directed by Karla Hartley, is about a playground fight between 11-year-old boys resulting in two teeth missing which leads two parent-couples coming together.  When the parents meet for cocktails, hoping to discuss the situation civilly, they intend to “practice the art of co-existence” rather than “slaughter each other with insurance claims.” But the veneer of polite society quickly falls away, and the evening deteriorates into a laugh-out-loud train wreck of finger-pointing, tantrums, and tears. And that’s before they break out the rum. Performances resume Wednesday, July 23rd.

God of Carnage stars, from left, Katherine Michelle Tanner, Billy Edwards, Cathy Schenkelberg and Brian Shea.

God of Carnage stars, from left, Katherine Michelle Tanner, Billy Edwards,
Cathy Schenkelberg and Brian Shea. | Photo by Chad Jacobs

There are a few additional things to consider about the background of GOD OF CARNAGE to spike your interest, if not persuade you to see it at American Stage before it closes on August 10th. Stephanie Hayes, a Times performing arts critic goes into detail about the comedy’s beginnings, while still leaving space for imagination in her preview of the darkly humorous production. Check out her: “5 things to know about ‘God of Carnage’ at American Stage”

Also check out the unique art that’s part of the set and available to buy!

American Stage is proud to announce a Peter Wright original which is a part of our GOD OF CARNAGE set selected from The Duncan McClellan Gallery. When searching for the most distinctive art piece to fit with our set design for GOD OF CARNAGE. Jerid Fox, our Props Master, worked with Duncan McClellan to select this Peter Wright original as the perfect addition to this beautiful set designed by Scott Cooper.

Our stage design has a modern and artistic feel for this production which allowed for this unique partnership with The Duncan McClellan Gallery.  This art piece is available for purchase at $6,000. The Duncan McClellan Gallery is generously donating the net proceeds back to American Stage Theatre Company. You can be the proud owner of this striking original piece from The Duncan McClellan Gallery and the set of GOD OF CARNAGE!

For more information or to purchase this art piece, please contact Development at 727.823.1600 x203 or email development@americanstage.org

Reviews say….

“The phrase “Karla Hartley has done it again” has been said so often that it should be copyrighted. She is a true gift to the Bay Area, and for years audiences and artists alike have been thankful for her guidance in numerous shows. Everything she does is top of the line, whether it’s direction, lighting, sound design, running a theatre company…”

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Ease on down to Demens Landing and enjoy our latest hit…THE WIZ!

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The cast of THE WIZ (L-R) Tia Jemison, Scott Daniel, Allyson Tolbert, Sharon E. Scott, Sara DelBeato, Chris Walker, Whitney Drake, Torrey Thomas, Darryl Reuben Hall, Georgia Mallory Guy, Jesse Rodriguez, and Rodner Salgado  |  Photo by Chad Jacobs

THE WIZ, our 29th Annual American Stage in the Park production opened with our Annual Gala Under the Stars Fundraiser last Friday. It also marks the return of some of the same creative team that brought THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW to Demens Landing in 2012 (director Karla Hartley and choreographer Domenic Bisesti). In this fresh take on the time-told classic, Dorothy (Whitney Drake) travels to the Land of Oz, and she’s walking on a road paved in rock, gospel, and soul! This beloved Broadway musical – winner of 7 Tony Awards (including “Best Musical”) is a dazzling multi-cultural journey that will take you to the most fantastical places…and back home again.

Every year, as a part of the American Stage in the Park tradition, we partner with various organizations around the area to create various theme nights. Bring your co-workers, family, and friends and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter; our theme nights this year include: Pets in the Park Night, City of St. Petersburg Night, Hospitality Night, Buy Local Night (in partnership with LocalShops1), tbt* Night, LGBT Night, Bicycle Night, Educators Night, and Front and Center for Wellness presented by Bayfront Health. Click the above banner image for full details on each of these great events!

American Stage is excited to be partnering with Creative Clay for a fun Instagram contest that celebrates both artwork from Creative Clay’s Artlink program and the 29th Annual American Stage in the Park production of THE WIZ running from April 9 through May 4, 2014. This partnership allows for Artlink teams to create unique artwork inspired by this musical. ARTLINK teams will observe the theatrical rehearsal process and translate their behind-the-scenes inspirations to their own artistic creations. Click the above banner image for full details! The contest ends on April 28, 2014.

Still not convinced that the journey to see THE WIZ is a trip worth taking? Then check out what the critics have to say! Click on each of these excerpts to view the full reviews:

“Fresh…entertaining, fast-moving and fun [with] sass to spare…Sharon Scott, a veteran performer with a mammoth voice, plays three roles. When she opens the second act as wicked witch Evillene, the energy really starts to pop. Scott is hilarious…On the duet Be A Lion, [Whitney] Drake and [Sara] DelBeato send a stunning harmony into the night sky…When we meet the Wiz, the set by Scott Cooper really starts to come to delicious life.” -Stephanie Hayes, Tampa Bay Times

“Spot-on entertaining…moving…soulful…fun…impressive.” –Walt Belcher, The Tampa Tribune

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A Season Above the Rest…An Unforgettable Journey: Our 2014 – 2015 Season Has Been Announced!

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Click above image for more information about our 2014-2015 Season & subscribe!  |  Artwork by Chad Jacobs & Roman Black

American Stage Theatre Company is thrilled to announce our 2014-2015 season including our six Mainstage productions, 30th Anniversary with American Stage in the Park and a bonus production that will be a Florida premiere!

The season opens with THE CHOSEN, written by the creators of last year’s hit MY NAME IS ASHER LEV, and is followed by NUREYEV’S EYES (bonus production), a Florida premiere produced in conjunction with the Museum of Fine Art’s Wyeth exhibit. During the holidays we will present Neil Simon’s LAUGHTER ON THE 23RD FLOOR. We then kick-off the new year with our 8th installment in August Wilson’s Century Cycle, RADIO GOLF, followed by the hilarious musical comedy GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL! starring Matthew McGee and Chris Crawford. In celebration of our 30th Anniversary with American Stage in the Park, we bring outdoors the Tony and Grammy Award-winning musical (and Pulitzer finalist) IN THE HEIGHTS. Summer of 2015 will see the play that won the Tony for “Best Play”, RED, and the regional premiere of comedian Lewis Black’s farce ONE SLIGHT HITCH.

To kick off our new season, our 2014-2015 Mainstage Subscription packages (excluding FLEXpasses) for both 6 & 5 play packages are now 20% off now through April 13, 2014. We also offer our FLEXpass which is 6 flexible tickets you can use whenever or however they want. For the 5-Play Package, Previews, nextWAVE subscriptions, or to receive 50% off of tickets to see the Florida premiere of NUREYEV’S EYES, please contact our box office directly at 727-823-PLAY (7529) where they will be able to process your play selections.

7 REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!
Huge savings over single tickets  |  Best seats guaranteed
Discounts on additional single ticket
Unlimited free tickets exchange  |  Lost ticket insurance
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PLUS: Subscriber Rewards Program card where you will be able to enjoy discounts with our participating restaurant and hotel partners.

Be sure to lock in the current rates for 2015 PARK tickets for IN THE HEIGHTS!

Click here for more information on each of the shows, and click here to see our subscription packages and subscribe today! Or if you would like, you can always order your subscriptions through our box office by calling (727) 823.PLAY(7529).

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2 TRAINS RUNNING is Currently Playing…and is a HIT with Both Critics and Theatre-Goers Alike!

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The cast of 2 TRAINS RUNNING (L-R) Wilbert L. Williams, Jr., Kim Sullivan, Bryant Louis Bentley, Renata Eastlick, ranney, Alan Bomar Jones, and Cranstan Cumberbatch  |  Photo by Chad Jacobs

2 TRAINS RUNNING, the 7th installment in our stunning August Wilson Century Cycle, opened last Friday, January 24th, to thunderous acclaim. This show takes place 1969, and is set in the aftermath of the riots, Dr. King’s assassination, and the rise of the black power movement. It tells the story of a young man named Stirling (Bryan Louis Bentley, who has starred in previous Century Cycle productions — including last year’s THE PIANO LESSON) who comes to Memphis Lee’s (Kim Sullivan, another Century Cycle alum) diner where customers have gathered for decades to share their struggles, faith, and hopes. But this diner has been slated for demolition in the city’s new redevelopment plan, and what unfolds is Wilson’s most compassionate and humorous work about lives in transition, evolving social awareness, and spirits rising.

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Sterling (Bryant Louis Bentley) and Risa (Renata Eastlick) share an intimate moment at the jukebox in August Wilson’s 2 TRAINS RUNNING.  |  Photo by Chad Jacobs

The cast is rounded out by many other familiar faces from Century Cycle productions past (Alan Bomar Jones, ranney, and Cranstan Cumberbatch), and some new faces as well (Renata Eastlick and Wilbert L. Williams, Jr.).  Under the thoughtful direction of incomparable Bob Devin Jones, these actors come together to create magic onstage that will leave you both satisfied…and eager to see what the Century Cycle has to offer next.

Click each of the quotes to read what the local theatre critics have to say, and once you have seen it for yourself, be sure to let us know what you think!

“American Stage continues its impressive series of August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays with 2 Trains Running. Director Bob Devin Jones draws fine performances from a strong cast… Wilson is, as always, dealing with big issues: freedom and justice, love and loss, violence and hard-won peace. … entirely individual, believable characters, their stories cast in a balance of drama and comedy…Rich and full of rhythm and beauty…an entertaining and thought-provoking trip.” -Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

“A spirited, engaging production with more laughs than one might expect…Comedy, tragedy and romance are served well.” Walt Belcher, Tampa Tribune

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Let Your Child’s Imagination Grow With 2014 Spring Youth Classes

Youth Classes
Photographer: BWL Photography

American Stage Education is proud to offer acting classes for youth ages 5-18.  With a focus on developing the student’s performance skills, creativity, and self-confidence we have classes for the beginning actor as well as for advanced performers.  Each class meets once a week for 12 weeks, allowing students the opportunity to get a truly in-depth experience.  Lessons and final showcase pieces change each semester.  Classes are designed to be taken year after year.  See the difference that theatre can make in your child’s life!

For more information or if you are having problems enrolling online, contact Meg Heimstead, the Director of Education, at 727-823-1600 x 201 or email her at mheimstead@americanstage.org.

Classes for Spring 2014:

Creative Storytelling II – Ages 5-7
Story Theatre – Ages 8-10
Page to Stage – Ages 11-13
Advanced Teen Acting  – Ages 14-18

For full class details click here.

What the students and parents are saying!

“This class really helped my daughter come out of her shell.”

“This class has given me tools to carry with me throughout my entire theatre career.”

“I have noticed her writing and storytelling at school has really improved. Her teacher notices too.”

“My child has a great imagination and this class fosters that in so many ways.”

For more information or if you are having difficulty enrolling on-line, please call Meg Heimstead, the Director of Education, at 727-823-1600 x 201 or email her atmheimstead@americanstage.org.

 

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